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Parliamentary questions
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26 April 2021
Question reference: E-000508/2021

The European Council in its conclusions(1) of December 2020 stated that a democratic, more stable, greener and more prosperous Southern Neighbourhood was one of the EU's strategic priorities. 25 years after the launching of the Barcelona process, the Council is determined to relaunch, reinforce, and further develop this strategic partnership built on a shared geography and history.

The work will be guided by the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024 and the key principles of the Neighbourhood policy. This new Agenda for the Mediterranean will be based on shared priorities focusing on specific Mediterranean responses and close cooperation in such areas as the environment, connectivity, education and culture, and natural resources.

The joint statement by trade ministers(2) at the 11th Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Trade Conference on 10 November 2020, drew attention to the anniversary of the Barcelona process and the developments in bilateral trade relations between the UfM member states over the last two and a half years.

In addition the statement emphasised the importance of building on the results of the regional work carried out and of developing further initiatives to reinvigorate Euro-Mediterranean trade and increase the competitive advantage of the region. Focus was also placed on the need for close cooperation to address the impact of COVID-19.

The economic actors of the region were encouraged to take greater advantage of the possibilities that the Euro-Mediterranean trade, investment and economic partnership provides. This in addition to the strengthening of the institutional and legal framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements already in place between the EU and South Mediterranean partners.

Ministers recognised that there was a need to modernise the trade provisions of some of the eight existing Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements in order to enhance integration with the EU market, through mutual market access

opportunities and alignment of standards. Even so, the modernisation of rules of origin in the context of the Regional Convention on Pan-Euro-Mediterranean Preferential Rules (PEM Convention) currently in negotiation is a positive step in this direction.

On 26 February 2021, the members of the European Council also discussed the political and strategic nature of the EU’s partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood.

They invited the Council to address the implementation of the 9 February 2021 Joint Communication from the Commission and the High Representative on a renewed and reinforced partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood with a view to tackling common challenges and taking advantage of shared opportunities through strengthened cooperation(3).

(1)EUCO 22/20
(2)Joint Statement of the 11th Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Trade Ministers Conference, 16 November 2020; 12956/20
(3)SN 2/21
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