From the Euro-Mediterranean partnership to the ENP



Writer: Elisa Mariani

Translated by: Giulia Turchetti

In November ’95 the Euro-Mediterranean partnership was established with the Barcelona Declaration. The Euro-Mediterranean partnership stands for a global agreement which involves still today the EU and the Southern Mediterranean countries. The aim: granting to this area political and economic welfare. This can be achievable thanks to useful discussions and collaboration between the parts involved.

Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Malta, Morocco, Cyprus, Jordan, Palestine, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt are the Southern Mediterranean countries, also well-known as Mediterranean Non-member Countries (MNCs), that joined the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. Since Libya and Mauretania are members of the Arab Maghreb Union ( AMU ) together with Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, have been invited joining the Euro-Mediterranean partnership too. Now Libya holds the observer status.

From a political viewpoint the Euro-Mediterranean association agreements and the discussions between the parties involved have had an important role. Actually, they enabled to create a common criteria for making respectable aspects such as the rule of law and democratic principles, fundamental freedoms, human rights and fight against terrorism as well as the abolishment of mass destruction weapons.

Within the socio-cultural sector the promotion of interreligious dialogue, the fight against illegal migration have been the fields of major innovation, as well as the one concerning the use of mass media as means of intercultural communication and education. This latter is aimed at the respect of different cultural identities.

The economic and trade partnership is another important element to be dealt with. Its purpose is to create a free trade area (FTA) in the Mediterranean zone, in order to abolish trade obstacles and customs barriers. These latter prevent the free movement of goods, agricultural products and services exchange. According to the estimates of the Institut de la Méditerranée, the maritime traffic will increase of about 16 % compared to the regular trend thanks to the FTA. The Euro-Mediterranean partnership sets the ambitious goal of the permanent and sustainable development of the MNCs. Also the EU supports this goal for the growth of the private sector and investments, new technologies and the market economy. It sustains the fight against poverty in the countries involved too.

Moreover with the Barcelona Declaration the EU has pledged for allocating funds in favor of the MNCs through the support of the European Investment Bank.

Promoting small and medium-sized companies, the MNCs regions co-partnership, the abolishment of obstacles against foreign direct investments by MNCs, the environmental sustainability and the woman key-role in economy matters are some other steps worth to be mentioned.

Nevertheless the FTA was thought to be started and completed by 2010. Instead few problems especially due to inactivity and lack of pragmatism and implementation of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership purposes downshifted the achievement of the previous mentioned goals. In 2002 the EU has established the FEMIP, Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership, in order to give further impetus to what had been promised by the Barcelona Declaration in 1995. In so doing small and medium-sized companies projects can be funded, as well as those of tourism-related companies or of infrastructure in MNCs, that is to say more in general all kinds of projects which focus on social and economic development of the Southern Mediterranean countries. As a consequence of the EU enlargement the Union itself gave birth to the ENP in 2004, which saw the approval of its correlated Action Plans with Israel, Palestine, Tunisia and Morocco in 2005. In 2007 Egypt and Lebanon signed the Action Plans.

In addition to this, the Union for Mediterranean was created always with the same purpose in 2008. One of the novelties that it has delivered concerns the birth of the working Group over the Euro-Mediterranean industrial cooperation. Actually, it involves corporations, associations of enterprise, international bodies and EU institutions. The aim: to enact practical measures suitable for realising what each two years during the meeting between the EU delegates and Industry Ministers of the MNCs is agreed.

In the last few years the relations between the EU and MNCs have changed. The latest geopolitical developments, in part caused by several protests that broke out in the MNCs, have contributed to this.

Since 2012 the negotiations about a possible action plan in Algeria have been started. These latter concern safety, anti-corruption measures and energy of which Algeria is one of the main producers.

The EU has contributed to the foundation of a solid State based on the inclusion principle in Libya, after the end of Gaddafi’s regime and its following Civil war. The EU is succeeding in so doing through the support secured by the UN to the diplomatic action, the implementation of a remit about improving border control in 2013, as well as the availability of allocating funds of the Neighborhood Instrument.

The relation with Tunisia has benefitted from the effects of the Arab Spring. Actually, the EU has supported both economically and politically the democratization process after the Jasmine Revolution in 2011. This process led to a new Constitution and the success of parliamentary and presidential elections in 2014. As a consequence of such events the EU and Tunisia have started a privileged partnership which aims at making the political and economic collaboration between them stronger, through the establishment of the Mobility partnership in March 2014 and the negotiations concerning a global FTA started in 2015.

Egypt has had a different destiny. It was struck by the revolution that dates back to the Arab Springs period in 2011, and it did not have political stability enough in order to meet the requirements set by the EU, which would have supported the achievement of reforms focused on the welfare of Egypt from all viewpoints.

Finally within the ENP sector Morocco has enjoyed the advanced status since 2008, whose purpose is to improve the cooperation between the parts with a major support by the EU as far as the implementation of reforms in policy and economy matters of the country is concerned. The EU-Morocco collaboration gave birth to the Action Plan (ENP) and to the Mobility partnership in 2013. It has been the very first collaboration within the Mediterranean area at starting negotiations concerning the facilitation of issuance of visas and the Free Trade agreement.