Towards a union for the Mediterranean : progress and challenges in economic and trade relations

03-09-2008

The present Briefing Paper aims at studying the context in which the new ‘Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean’ initiative was adopted by the 27 EU Member States and its Mediterranean Partners and what can be expected from this new initiative in the trade and economic fields. Since 1995 it is obvious that progress was achieved in building a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area as almost all Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements have been implemented. The multilateral dimension of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: the Barcelona Process has also generated positive results such as the creation of a number of multilateral networks and institutions. The 2005 five years programme (2006-2009) adopted at the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona Process gave, in this regard, a new impetus to the multilateral cooperation. The issue of economic integration between the Mediterranean Partners is nevertheless still a major concern as little has been achieved at operational level. However, even if the Arab Maghreb Union process is still frozen, the creation of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area and the launching of the Agadir initiative are positive signs indicating that there is a renewed political will to address this crucial issue. The prospect of deeper Euro-Mediterranean integration implies a number of new challenges in the areas of trade in industrial and agricultural products and services. Deeper economic integration implies also the creation of new structures on the two shores of the Mediterranean. According to the European Commission the ‘broader neighbourhood economic community’ should be the long term vision and ‘deep and comprehensive free trade agreements’ could be envisaged in the future. The potential impact of deeper economic integration on key economic sectors should however not be underestimated. Also, the level of Foreign Direct Investment in the Mediterranean is still a major concern even if the new trends are a little bit

The present Briefing Paper aims at studying the context in which the new ‘Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean’ initiative was adopted by the 27 EU Member States and its Mediterranean Partners and what can be expected from this new initiative in the trade and economic fields. Since 1995 it is obvious that progress was achieved in building a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area as almost all Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements have been implemented. The multilateral dimension of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: the Barcelona Process has also generated positive results such as the creation of a number of multilateral networks and institutions. The 2005 five years programme (2006-2009) adopted at the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona Process gave, in this regard, a new impetus to the multilateral cooperation. The issue of economic integration between the Mediterranean Partners is nevertheless still a major concern as little has been achieved at operational level. However, even if the Arab Maghreb Union process is still frozen, the creation of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area and the launching of the Agadir initiative are positive signs indicating that there is a renewed political will to address this crucial issue. The prospect of deeper Euro-Mediterranean integration implies a number of new challenges in the areas of trade in industrial and agricultural products and services. Deeper economic integration implies also the creation of new structures on the two shores of the Mediterranean. According to the European Commission the ‘broader neighbourhood economic community’ should be the long term vision and ‘deep and comprehensive free trade agreements’ could be envisaged in the future. The potential impact of deeper economic integration on key economic sectors should however not be underestimated. Also, the level of Foreign Direct Investment in the Mediterranean is still a major concern even if the new trends are a little bit

Awtur estern

Erwan LANNON (University of Ghent, College of Europe, EU Institute for Security Studies)