In 1995 the EU started an initiative called 'the Barcelona process'. The goal of this process was to create closer cooperation on a political, economic and cultural level with the non-EU countries around the Mediterranean, most notably the countries of the Maghreb (Northern Africa) and the Mashriq (Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Turkey, amongst others). This process has culminated in the 'European-Mediterranean Partnership', which had as one of its working goals to create an EU-Mediterranean free trade area.
However, in the late 2000's, this diplomatic and political process halted. French President Sarkozy thought it should continue, and during his 2008 election campaign called for a deeper and broader 'Union for the Mediterranean'. In this union, all the countries around the Mediterranean would come together to pool sovereignty on a number of issues. Most importantly, this union would exist next to, not as a part of, the European Union: EU Member States without a border along the Mediterranean were to be excluded from membership. This led to significant opposition from exactly those EU Member States which were to be excluded, amongst them Germany. Germany felt that a partnership with other countries in the Mediterranean was an excellent idea, but that it should be an EU process and thus involve all EU Member States, including northern ones without direct access to the Mediterranean.
To be sure: in the status quo, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership has been reconstituted as the "Union for the Mediterranean", which is an EU programme but also involves the League of Arab States, and focuses on 3 goals: increase contacts, increase cooperation, and make cooperation visible through certain projects. The 2008 Paris Declaration which constituted the "Union for the Mediterranean" established a rotating Presidency, institutionalized an Inter-parliamentary Assembly of all participating countries, created a Secretariat and six projects (de-pollution of the Mediterranean, Maritime and Land Highways, Civil protection, Alternative energy, Higher Education, and the Mediterranean Business Development Initiative). But many argue that this is largely a talking shop, with too many non-Mediterranean countries involved and little commitment to meaningful political and economic integration.
This casefile looks further into this matter and asks whether the EU as an actor should have a partnership with the other non-EU Mediterranean countries. Is a Euro-Mediterranean partnership worthwhile and should it be developed further in the future?
In December 2010, revolt and unrest broke out in Tunisia and Algeria. The situation rapidly proliferated and several other countries in the Middle East and North Africa were soon affected by turmoil and violence: Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, and Libya. In some of these countries, revolt ended with the fall of long-serving rulers
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