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Thursday, 19 February 2009 - Brussels Final edition
The Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean
P6_TA(2009)0077A6-0502/2008

European Parliament resolution of 19 February 2009 on the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean (2008/2231(INI))

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Barcelona Declaration establishing a Euro-Mediterranean partnership, which was adopted at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Ministers for Foreign Affairs held in Barcelona on 27-28 November 1995,

–   having regard to the Commission's Communication of 20 May 2008 entitled "Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean" (COM(2008)0319),

–   having regard to the approval of the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean by the Brussels European Council of 13-14 March 2008,

–   having regard to the Joint Declaration of the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, held on 13 July 2008,

–   having regard to the Final Declaration of the Meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Union for the Mediterranean, held in Marseilles on 3-4 November 2008,

–   having regard to the Conclusions of the Meeting of Euro-Mediterranean Ministers for Foreign Affairs held in Lisbon on 5-6 November 2007,

–   having regard to the Conclusions of the Euro-Mediterranean Summit held in Barcelona on 27-28 November 2005 to mark the tenth anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership,

–   having regard to the Declaration of the Bureau of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) of 12 July 2008, the EMPA Declaration on the Middle East Peace Process of 13 October 2008 and the EMPA Recommendation to the First Meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean, of 13 October 2008,

–   having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 9 October 2008,

–   having regard to the Declaration of the Euro-Mediterranean Summit of Economic and Social Councils, held in Rabat on 16 October 2008,

–   having regard to the Final Declaration of the Presidency of EMPA and the recommendations adopted by EMPA at its fourth plenary session, held in Athens on 27-28 March 2008,

–   having regard to the first meeting of EuroMed-Scola, which brought together young citizens from the partner countries and the EU countries in Strasbourg on 16-17 November 2008,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the European Union's Mediterranean policy, and in particular that of 5 June 2008 on the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean(1) ,

–   having regard to the Commission's Communication of 21 May 2003 entitled "Reinvigorating EU actions on Human Rights and democratisation with Mediterranean partners - Strategic guidelines" (COM(2003)0294),

–   having regard to the Commission's Communication of 4 December 2006 on strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy (COM(2006)0726),

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2007 on strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy(2) ,

–   having regard to its priorities for its Presidency of the EMPA (March 2008 - March 2009),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0502/2008),

A.   whereas the Mediterranean basin is becoming an area of key importance and the European Union and partner countries increasingly have shared interests in meeting the challenges of globalisation and peaceful coexistence, meaning that there is a need to ensure greater regional cohesion and the development of a joint policy strategy for the area,

B.   whereas the EU is, and should continue to be, committed to the fulfilment of the UN Millennium Development Goals,

C.   whereas the economic, political and cultural distance between the two sides of the Mediterranean is increasing and those disparities need to be rectified in order eventually to create a shared area of peace, security and prosperity,

D.   whereas there is a need for an extensive results-oriented overhaul and deepening of the relations between the EU and the Mediterranean partner countries, based on the principle of equality between all the partners and capitalising on the work already done, but also addressing the limitations and shortfalls of the policies implemented to date, and in particular the disappointing track record of the Barcelona Process,

E.   whereas the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) conducted with the Mediterranean countries has its limitations and, by placing the emphasis on bilateral relations, is proving to be lacking in balance and unable to contribute to a shared process of significant reform in the region,

F.   whereas there is a need to establish relations based on a close partnership and founded on respect for human rights and the rule of law between the EU and the Mediterranean countries of the Mediterranean basin in its entirety,

G.   whereas since the launching of the Barcelona Process no substantial progress has been made in some of the partner countries as regards adherence to, and respect for, some of the common values and principles highlighted in the 1995 Barcelona Declaration to which they subscribed, especially as regards democracy, human rights and the rule of law,

H.   whereas there is a need to promote regional and economic integration between the countries of the Mediterranean basin; whereas genuine regional and economic integration can be achieved only if concrete progress is made as regards settlement of the existing conflicts and progress in the field of democracy and human rights,

I.   whereas closer relations between the EU and the countries of the Mediterranean have led to a significant increase in trade between those countries without, however, the necessary upgrading and modernisation of the corresponding infrastructure,

J.   whereas the Heads of State and of Government recognised in the Joint Declaration of the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, dated 13 July 2008, that the EMPA will be the legitimate parliamentary expression of the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean, declaring at the same time their strong support for the strengthening of the role of the EMPA in its relations with Mediterranean partners,

K.   emphasising that it is insufficient to address the gamut of political relations between the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean area solely from an intergovernmental perspective,

L.   emphasising the importance of the role played by EMPA, which is the only parliamentary assembly enabling dialogue and cooperation in the Euro-Mediterranean area to bring together the 27 EU Member States and all the parties connected with the Middle East peace process,

M.   whereas it is important to ensure the involvement of local and regional authorities in the projects and initiatives established by the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean and to take into account the recent proposals emanating from those authorities,

N.   whereas it is important to ensure the involvement of the social partners and civil society in revitalising Euro-Mediterranean relations,

O.   pointing to the need to avoid any duplication or overlap of existing instruments, policies or institutional levels, and to ensure the overall cohesion of the system of Euro-Mediterranean relations,

P.   emphasising the need for a speedy and peaceful resolution of all conflicts involving Mediterranean countries and realising the importance of the maintenance of intercultural dialogue in this respect,

Q.   whereas the recent recrudescence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects the political dialogue of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and may imperil the achievement of several of the objectives pursued by the new institution,

R.   whereas the persistent absence of a solution to the serious political tensions in Western Sahara does not contribute to the re-launch of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership,

1.  Believes that the proposal of the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean, adopted by the Heads of State and Government at the Summit for the Mediterranean held in Paris on 13 July 2008, contributes towards peace and prosperity and that it will constitute a step towards economic and regional integration as well as ecological and climatic cooperation between the Mediterranean countries, provided that it delivers what it promises and yields concrete and visible results; points out that opening up the process 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;

2.  Reiterates its position in its resolution of 15 January 2009 on the situation in the Gaza Strip(3) and expresses its concern for the recrudescence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which has already affected the political dialogue among the partners of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership; considers it important to avoid further delay in this initial phase of the Union for the Mediterranean and hopes that the cooperation will gather pace again as soon as possible, making its contribution to the shared goal of peace in the Middle East; stresses that, having regard to the principles agreed at the above-mentioned Paris summit of 13 July 2008 and meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs at Marseille on 3 and 4 November 2008, the new institutions of the Union for the Mediterranean should concentrate on a clear project-oriented dimension, which constitutes its principal added value;

3.  Notes that the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, held in Marseilles on 3-4 November 2008, proposed that the "Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean" be named henceforth the "Union for the Mediterranean"; takes the view that this name would help highlight the joint nature of the partnership with a view to the implementation of economic regional integration projects; considers it necessary, however, for the strategic value of Euro-Mediterranean relations and the Barcelona Process acquis , including the involvement of civil society, to be reaffirmed, taking as a starting-point the policies which the EU is already developing with its Mediterranean partners in the shape of regional and sub-regional programmes and common guidelines for bilateral cooperation;

4.  Calls on the Council and the Commission in this respect to ensure the cohesion of EU action, especially with regard to possible institutional developments (in particular the role of the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy as Vice-President of the Commission) and the utilisation of the Community budget;

5.  Welcomes the fact that the establishment of the Union for the Mediterranean has been supported within the framework of the EU institutions;

6.  Agrees with the decision to place the emphasis on a multilateral framework by pinpointing certain large-scale projects to be implemented using the new instruments under the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean; nevertheless highlights the lack of any strategies for economic or regional integration in the Mediterranean basin to support those projects;

7.  Takes the view that a "programme agreements" approach should be adopted to the implementation of projects, drawing on the principle of subsidiarity to clearly define the financial, managerial and supervisory responsibilities of the various institutional levels: European Union, Member States, regions, enterprises and the social partners;

8.  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; calls on the Council and Commission, to that end, to specify and strengthen the role and 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; reiterates its support for the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean Investment Bank and coordination with international investors; emphasises the importance of the remittance of savings by emigrants from the Southern Mediterranean countries to their countries of origin and considers this to be a tremendous and as yet insufficiently used lever for development;

9.  Takes the view that, pending review of the financial perspective, the European Union's share of funding for Mediterranean projects must be guaranteed, but not to the detriment of the Euro-Mediterranean regional projects already in progress or scheduled, the bolstering of which the European Parliament has called for many times; emphasises, in this connection, the powers vested in the European Parliament in the EU budgetary procedure; hopes that Parliament will be regularly updated on the stage reached in projects;

10.  Considers that the Secretariat will be able to demonstrate major potential for revitalising Euro-Mediterranean relations thanks to its operational capacity and the political value of its composition; 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; welcomes the fact that unanimous agreement has been reached on the seat of the Secretariat; points out that the city of Barcelona was the birthplace of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership;

11.  Agrees that, from an EU perspective, the co-presidency must be compatible with the external representation of the EU in accordance with the Treaty provisions in force; hopes in this regard, on the assumption that the Treaty of Lisbon will enter into force, that the European Union will ensure consistency and continuity in its representation in the new institutions of the Union for the Mediterranean;

12.  Welcomes the decision of the Ministerial Conference of 3 November 2008, which duly took note of the recommendation adopted by the EMPA in Jordan on 13 October 2008; supports the decision to bring a strong parliamentary dimension to the Union for the Mediterranean, thereby reinforcing its democratic legitimacy, by building on the EMPA, which should be further consolidated and its work better articulated with that of the other institutions of the Partnership, with the possibility being envisaged of granting it legal personality and entitling it to propose and assess economic and regional integration strategies and projects and allowing it to make recommendations to the meetings of foreign affairs ministers; expects this recognition of the EMPA as an institution also to be reflected by its participating as an observer at all meetings of the executive, at meetings of the Heads of State and Government, at ministerial meetings and at the preparatory meetings of senior officials;

13.  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, in consideration of its positive contribution to the goals of peace, prosperity and stability in the Mediterranean region;

14.  Emphasises the need to include regional and local authorities in the new institutional framework; welcomes the opinion delivered by the Committee of the Regions and the proposal to create a Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (EMRLA);

15.  Considers that, in parallel with the enhancement of the parliamentary dimension, a similar development is required in securing the involvement of civil society within the appropriate institutional structure of the Union for the Mediterranean, not least through mechanisms to ensure that civil society is consulted on the selection, implementation and monitoring of projects; invites the EMPA, in that connection, to involve civil society in the Northern and Southern Mediterranean countries more closely in its work; calls for the role of the social partners to be enhanced with a view to the establishing of a Euro-Mediterranean Economic and Social Committee;

16.  Observes that some of the countries participating in the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean were not part of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership; calls on the Council, the Commission and all the States participating in the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean to establish, in this connection, a cohesive framework of relations geared to economic and regional integration between the EU and all the countries of the Mediterranean basin; 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;

17.  Underlines 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; considers that the Union for the Mediterranean will not hamper other regional cooperation initiatives;

18.  Stresses the need for an extensive overhaul of Euro-Mediterranean policy as a whole by strengthening its political dimension and joint development; points out that in any event the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean initiative does not weaken the broader perspectives of that policy;

19.  Takes the view that the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean should step up existing forms of cooperation under EuroMed in order to provide all partner countries with the chance of participating in the EU's regional programmes and corresponding policies on the basis of priorities and objectives set by mutual agreement; recalls that it is important to strengthen the extension of the scope of Community programmes to participation by partner countries, particularly in the fields of education, research and professional training (student exchanges, etc.);

20.  Takes the view that the issues of peace and security, human rights and democracy, and cultural cooperation, must be addressed via the Euro-Mediterranean dimension; reaffirms that the Union for the Mediterranean is intended to address regional, infrastructural and environmental issues by means of strategic plans and specific projects; hopes that this practical dimension can contribute to a renewal of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership;

21.  Recalls the first initiatives proposed at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean on 13 July 2008: de-pollution of the Mediterranean, maritime and land highways, civil protection, the Mediterranean Solar Plan, higher education and research, and the Mediterranean Business Development Initiative;

22.  Recalls that, in order to attain the ambitious objectives of the Barcelona Process, it is necessary rapidly to extend the areas of cooperation to cover water management, agriculture, food security, energy, professional training, culture, health, tourism, etc.;

23.  Strongly supports the environmental dimension of the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean and the related initiatives and projects, such as the new Euro-Mediterranean initiative for the de-pollution of the Mediterranean and the Mediterranean Project for Solar Energy;

24.  Takes the view that the inclusion of all the Mediterranean countries in the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean provides the opportunity to deal with the problems of the region in a more comprehensive manner and to link and coordinate the process, in a more effective way, with already existing programmes such as the Mediterranean Action Plan of the UNEP (United Nations Environment Plan);

25.  Welcomes the proposal, contained in the Final Declaration of the Presidency of the Fourth EMPA Plenary Session held on 27 and 28 March 2008, for the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean Energy Community supported by the EMPA; recognises the importance of strengthening cooperation in the field of energy between the Euro-Mediterranean partners and the need to develop a regional energy market, with a view to the implementation of large-scale renewable energy and energy infrastructure projects in the Mediterranean region;

26.  Hopes that the strengthening of Euro-Mediterranean relations will provide a boost to the development of an area of peace and prosperity; emphasises that peace and political stability in the Mediterranean are vital for collective and individual security far beyond its shores; emphasises that this aim can only be achieved through negotiated and comprehensive settlement of the conflicts in the region; believes that the EU must assume the role of leadership in the resolution of those conflicts by winning the confidence of all parties involved; stresses the need to formally maintain cooperation in the field of combating international terrorism, drugs trafficking, organised crime and the trafficking of human beings; welcomes the call made in the Marseilles declaration to the parties concerned to endeavour to implement a process of gradual demilitarisation and disarmament of the Middle East with a view, in particular, to creating an area free of nuclear armaments and weapons of mass destruction;

27.  Considers that, in order to ease tensions around the Mediterranean, intercultural and inter-societal understanding among its peoples must be improved, and that initiatives such as the Alliance of Civilisations must therefore be supported as a prime forum for dialogue contributing to stabilisation of the region; urges the Council and the Commission to propose strategies for promoting that dialogue; encourages an upgrading of links between the EMPA and the Anna Lindh Foundation, including the organisation of meetings between leading networks of the Anna Lindh Foundation and the EMPA Culture Committee;

28.  Points out that one of the main goals of Euro-Mediterranean policy is to promote the rule of law, democracy, respect for human rights and political pluralism, and notes that there are still severe violations thereof; reiterates the importance of promoting human rights and the rule of law; calls for an assessment of what has been achieved so far and for adjustment of the instruments implemented under the partnership; urges the Commission to set precise criteria for eligibility of those instruments, including as regards other international organisations such as the Council of Europe, and to put in place an effective system to monitor their implementation; in that connection, calls on all the parties concerned to further and promote respect for freedom of religion and belief and for minority rights; hopes that a joint policy-making and institutional framework will be defined that facilitates greater mutual cooperation in the pinpointing of problems and in the search for common solutions;

29.  Calls on the Council and the Commission, therefore, clearly to enshrine the promotion of human rights and democracy in the objectives of this new initiative, to further strengthen the implementation of existing mechanisms such as the human rights clause contained in the Association agreements and the setting-up of subcommittees on human rights, and to create a mechanism for the implementation of that clause in the new generation of agreements and the bilateral Action Plans of the ENP; emphasises that the instruments for promoting human rights available under the ENP must be exploited to the full, guaranteeing greater political cohesion between the European institutions;

30.  Calls on all the countries participating in the partnership, the Commission and the future institutions of the Union for the Mediterranean to inject fresh vigour into the management of joint migration policies in order to better harness human resources and strengthen exchanges between the peoples of the Mediterranean while also eschewing a "security-first" approach; considers that immigration issues must focus on the possibilities for legal migration, on the combating of illegal migratory flows, on smoother integration of immigrant groups and on the exercising of the right of asylum; highlights the importance of there being close cooperation and a spirit of joint responsibility between the EU Member States and the Southern Mediterranean countries; welcomes the holding of the EuroMed Ministerial Conference on Migration in November 2007 and takes the view that the Union for the Mediterranean needs to give priority attention to the structured management of migratory flows;

31.  Notes the joint declaration issued by the Heads of State and Government at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean on 13 July 2008, in which they stated that the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean demonstrates a determination to favour the development of human resources and employment in line with the Millennium Development Goals, including by alleviating poverty, and looks forward to the emergence of new initiatives, programmes and financial provisions to that end;

32.  Considers that, in order to permit the creation of a mutually beneficial Euro-Mediterranean free trade area, the economic and commercial initiatives of the Union for the Mediterranean must favour the economic growth of the region, help improve its integration into the world economy and contribute to reducing the development gap between the Northern and Southern Mediterranean, whilst boosting social cohesion;

33.  Stresses the need to assess and take systematically into account the social impact of liberalisation processes, particularly in terms of food security; further stresses that this impact may vary significantly from one sector to another and from one country to another;

34.  Stresses the importance of the informal sector and the mass economy in the countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean; considers that, in the interests of the development of the region, support must be given to progressively integrating those activities into the formal economy;

35.  Notes that, since the 2004 and 2007 enlargements, trade between the new Member States of the EU and its Mediterranean partners has been constantly increasing; calls for this trend to be taken into account and supported in the context of the partnership;

36.  Stresses the need to encourage young people to create small businesses, including by facilitating access to credits and microcredit; also considers that support for the FEMIP must be stepped up;

37.  Notes that the agreements between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Mediterranean countries, of the other part, provide for cooperation measures in the field of immigration and political asylum, including the funding of immigration centres, and urges the European Union and the Member States to verify that human rights and fundamental freedoms are being fully respected in those centres;

38.  Believes it essential to achieve concrete and tangible targets in the social field; points out in this regard that the objective of a free-trade area cannot be measured simply in terms of economic growth, but also and above all in terms of job creation; points out that youth and female unemployment is the foremost social emergency in the Mediterranean countries;

39.  Invites the Southern Mediterranean partner countries to develop south-south trade, as in the Agadir Economic Agreement signed by Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, and stresses that the EU institutions must respond positively to requests for technical support to promote such south-south economic integration;

40.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the governments and parliaments of all the partner countries of the Union for the Mediterranean.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0257.
(2) OJ C 282E, 6.11.2008, p. 443.
(3) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2009)0025.

Last updated: 22 December 2009Legal notice