Brussels, 8 March 2011
EU Commission launches ambitious Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean
The European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy today presented a Communication on a Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean. This Strategy spells out what Europe can do to support the momentous changes in our Southern Neighbourhood and is a contribution to the extraordinary European Council on 11 March.
Commission President Barroso said: "The historic changes underway in the Southern Mediterranean carry the hope of more freedom, democracy, and a better life for the people in the region. It is our responsibility to rise up and support that transformation. The European Union is determined to make a qualitative leap forward in the relations with its neighbours who are willing and able to embark on the path of political and economic reforms. Fear of tomorrow’s unknown shall not prevent us from supporting today’s changes. This is a rendezvous with history that we must not miss. "
"The European Union has the experience and tools to help the countries in the region as they make the journey to deep democracy," said Catherine Ashton. "Today we have agreed a comprehensive offer of practical measures to support and underpin this process of transition. I look forward to EU leaders endorsing these measures at Friday's Summit. It is not for the EU to seek to impose solutions - these revolutions belong to the people of the region. It is for the people themselves to decide how they want to be governed and what assistance they require. Europe stands ready to provide any support it can."
The Partnership for Democracy and Prosperity should be built on three key pillars: i) targeted support for democratic transformation and institution-building, with a particular focus on human rights, constitutional and judicial reforms and the fight against corruption; ii) a close partnership with the people, with a specific emphasis on support to civil society and more opportunities for people-to-people contacts, especially for the young, iii) a boost for economic growth, development and job creation, notably through support to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises,. In this context, the Commission will refocus the substantial assistance programmes, which currently make € 4 billion in grants available to our Southern neighbours for the period 2011-13.
The Union's obvious first concern has been to respond to the immediate challenges occurring in our Southern Neighbourhood, notably the human hardship and migratory challenges. The Commission has already made € 30 million available to tackle the most pressing humanitarian needs of the displaced people. Furthermore, the Commission has mobilised its instruments to support Italy, and other Member States if needed, in case a massive influx of migrants were to materialise. This response includes operational measures such as the Frontex joint operation HERMES 2011 and, if necessary, financial assistance. In Tunisia, an additional EU aid package of €17 million has been prepared for immediate support for democratic transition and assistance to impoverished areas. Now is the time to table tools to attain our longer term objectives: democracy, rule of law and inclusive growth.
In setting up and implementing this Partnership, the Commission proposes following a clearly incentive-based approach of country-wise differentiation and "more for more”. Partners who move faster on political and economic reforms should be able to count on greater support from the EU.
For more information:
Link to the Communication: