A political solution to the conflict in Syria, a resumption of the Middle East peace process and support for the transition to democracy in countries on the Mediterranean's southern shore - these were the key wishes of the 8th Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), held in Rabat (Morocco) on 24 and 25 March 2012. The European Parliament will now chair this Assembly for a year.
In plenary session, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who led the EP delegation and will chair the UfM Assembly for the coming year, presented his priorities. "Our Assembly must mobilise to strengthen the role of newly-elected MPs and new parliaments. It must see that the needs of our fellow citizens are reflected in the activities of the Union for the Mediterranean and of the European neighbourhood policy. Pressing ahead with large projects that create growth and jobs is a priority. Furthermore, it must be acknowledged that the 'Arab Spring' has somewhat overshadowed the Middle East Peace Process. It is therefore vital to maintain conditions of dialogue and openness to enable our Israeli and Palestinian colleagues to take part in our work", he said.
This meeting was the first to bring together MEPs and MPs newly elected on the Mediterranean's southern shore since the "Arab Spring".
Situation in Syria and Middle East Peace Process
"It is urgently necessary to put an immediate end to violence in Syria and guarantee full and protected access to humanitarian assistance. Syria does not need military intervention, but a political transition led by Syrians" said Political Affairs Committee Chair Tokia Saïfi (EPP, FR), echoing the recommendation approved in plenary session.
The parliamentarians stated their support for the mission of United Nations and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan, to bring about a political solution to the crisis. They also expressed their support for, and solidarity with,
the people and youth of Syria.
The resolution passed on Sunday calls on Israel to recognise the Arab peace initiative whilst reiterating the importance and urgency of arriving a fair and lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Supporting the transition to democracy
Support for the democratic process in the context of EU neighbourhood policy must foster the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, the pluralism of the media, the fight against corruption and the strengthening of civil society, says the approved text.
The recommendations also reiterate the active role that young people and women play in movements towards democracy, and stress the need to involve them in the democratic transition.
Furthermore, to promote education and training for young people, parliamentarians call on the European Commission to take up the European Parliament proposal on the creation of Euro-Mediterranean Erasmus (student exchange) and Leonardo Da Vinci (professional training) programmes.
To support the southern Mediterranean countries in their reform and decentralisation efforts, the Parliamentary Assembly advocates creating a Euro-Mediterranean investment bank, provided it is shown to be feasible.
EP Delegation - Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean
Martin Schulz, EP President and Chair of the delegation, François Alfonsi (Greens/EFA, FR), Kriton Arsenis (S&D, EL), Ines Ayala Sender (S&D, ES), Malika Benarab-Attou (Greens/EFA, FR), Vacilia Viorica Dancila (S&D, RO), Isabelle Durant (Greens/EFA, BE), Gaston Franco (EPP, FR), Vicente Garces Ramon (S&D, ES), Sajjad Karim (ECR, UK), Ioannis Kasoulides (EPP, EL), Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou (EPP, EL), Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE/NGL, France), Guido Milana (S&D, IT), Radvilé Morkunaitè-Mikulènienè (EPP, LT), José Maria Obiols Germà (S&D, ES), Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D, IT), Antonyia Parvanova (ALDE, BG), Carmen Romera Lopez (S&D, ES), Tokia Saïfi (EPP, FR), Marie-Thérèse Sanchez Schmid (EPP, FR), Edward Scicluna (S&D, MT), Kyriacos Triantaphyllides (GUE/NGL, CY), Ivo Vajgl (ALDE, SL), Dominique Vlasto (EPP, FR).