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Press release
 

'Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean' contributes towards peace and prosperity

External relations - 19-02-2009 - 14:00
Plenary sessions
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Opening up the 'Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean' to countries not involved in the partnership "increases the likelihood of establishing parity in relations between the EU and the Mediterranean partner countries and of tackling the problems of the region in a comprehensive way". So says the European Parliament in a report adapted with 521 votes in favour, 44 against and 13 abstentions.

Provided that the proposal entitled 'Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean' adopted by Heads of State and Government on 13 July, 2008 "delivers its promises and yields concrete and visible results", it contributes towards peace and prosperity and constitutes "a step towards economic and regional integration as well as ecological and climatic co-operation between the Mediterranean countries", the report states.
 
The report also welcomes the decision of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Union for the Mediterranean to include the League of Arab States as a participant at all meetings at all levels, considering its positive contribution to the goals of peace, prosperity and stability in the Mediterranean region.
 
New name proposed: 'Union for the Mediterranean'
 
Parliament is of the view that changing the name to 'Union for the Mediterranean' - a change proposed at a meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs held in Marseilles on 3-4 November, 2008 - would help to highlight the joint nature of the partnership, but considers it necessary that the strategic value of Euro Mediterranean relations and the Barcelona Process acquis, including the involvement of civil society, be reaffirmed.
 
The report calls for the Secretariat to be brought into operation as a matter of urgency, in order to prove that it is possible to overcome current tensions by promoting real and concrete projects of mutual cooperation.
 
Accession prospects not affected
 
The report stresses that participation in the Union for the Mediterranean does not constitute an alternative to enlargement of the EU and does not affect the accession prospects of any current or future candidate state and considers that the Union for the Mediterranean will not hamper other regional cooperation initiatives.
 
The House also calls on the Council and the Commission to ensure that all member countries of the Union for the Mediterranean are able to access the regional programmes already provided for under the Euro Mediterranean partnership, pointing to the importance of extending the scope of Community programmes to include participation by partner countries, not least in the fields of education, research and professional training (student exchanges, etc.).
 
Leadership role of EU in conflict resolution
 
Parliament believes that the EU must assume the role of leadership in the resolution of conflicts in the region by winning the confidence of all parties involved. It is hoped that the strengthening of Euro Mediterranean relations will provide a "boost to the development of an area of peace and prosperity".
 
Funding
 
The report points out that the projects financed within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean should be supported by funding from the Community, from partner states and from private financing. It calls on the Council and Commission to specify the role and strengthen the initiatives of the Facility for Euro Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) which, through its investment programme, is facilitating the economic opening up and modernisation of the Mediterranean countries.
 
It also reiterates its support for the creation of a Euro Mediterranean Investment Bank and coordination with international investors and emphasises the importance of the remittance of savings by emigrants from the Southern Mediterranean countries to their countries of origin, considering this to be "a tremendous and as yet insufficiently used lever for development".
 
REF.: 20090218IPR49778