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Brussels, 27 September 2013
EU-Maghreb: First ministerial dialogue on closer regional cooperation
New York (27 September) - Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met today in New York, in the margins of the UN General Assembly, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the five Maghreb countries, members of the Arab Maghreb Union, to discuss developments in the region and ways to strengthen mutual cooperation. It was the first informal political dialogue between countries of the Arab Maghreb Union and the EU and the participants agreed to continue with it in the future and discussed the possibility to hold next ministerial dialogue in Maghreb.
"The European Union is keen to deepen its engagement with Maghreb. Last December we set out ways in which we could support efforts by the Maghreb countries to promote their closer integration within the region – fully respecting their ownership of the process and their ambitions about the speed and depth of this process," Commissioner Füle said noting that Maghreb is a region rich in development potential, but still one of the least integrated regions in the world.
At the meeting today it was agreed that EU-Maghreb regional cooperation would focus on four priority areas:
1) political dialogue and security cooperation
2) agriculture, environment and water resources (including rural development, fisheries, desertification and climate change)
3) industry, infrastructure, trade, investment and technology (including tourism, energy, information and communication)
4) human development (including scientific research, technology transfer, vocational training, employment, youth, sport and circulation of persons).
Technical work will be initiated in Brussels in the coming weeks in order to translate these intentions in concrete initiatives.
"The European Union knows from its own experience that closer integration removes barriers, brings significant benefits for citizens and businesses - in creating greater stability, promoting development and dealing with environmental, security and other challenges: for the benefit of the people in Maghreb, but also in the EU," Commissioner Füle stressed at the meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.