MEETING OF EURO-MEDITERRANEAN FOREIGN
MINISTERS AT VALENCIA
Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: Commission Communication to prepare the meeting of Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers, Valencia, 22-23 April 2002.
|Document originated:||13 February 2002
|Forwarded to the Council:
||15 February 2002|
|Deposited in Parliament:
||14 March 2002|
|Department:||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 27 March 2002|
|Previous Committee Report:
|To be discussed in Council:
||15/16 April General Affairs Council|
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
21.1 On 23 January 2002, European Standing Committee
B debated the Commission Communication on Reinvigorating the
Introducing the present Communication, the Commission says
that the Barcelona Process
has become a major strategic, political and economic asset for
all its 27 partners. Since it was reinvigorated in Marseilles
in 2000, it has been given a strong political drive.
21.2 The Communication is intended as a think-piece in
advance of the April Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting in
Valencia. It reviews progress since 1995, evaluates the difficulties
faced and makes sixteen proposals for further work. These proposals
cover the three areas of activity ('volets') within the Barcelona
- economic and financial; and
- social, cultural and human co-operation.
It also suggests institutional changes.
21.3 In the political and security field, the Commission
advocates holding regular meetings of Political Directors and
enhancing work on human rights and democracy. Concrete measures
for the Partnership to undertake in the fight against terrorism
are also suggested.
21.4 In the economic field, the Commission suggests further
support for the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area and for assistance
with the development of South-South trade. It welcomes progress
made on rules of origin and it suggests that Ministers should
welcome the steps made to liberalise the services sector. Strategies
should be developed for the transport, telecommunications and
energy sectors and Ministers should emphasise the importance of
national sustainable development strategies. The Commission supports
the Presidency proposal for a financial facility for the region.
21.5 The Commission Communication continues the Partnership's
focus on social, cultural and human issues. It recommends that
the Partners agree a framework regional programme in the area
of freedom, justice and governance. It proposes creating a EuroMed
Foundation to promote dialogue between cultures and civilisations
in the region, and extending the TEMPUS higher education programme
to the region. An analysis should be made of the most cost-effective
way to engage civil society in developing the partnership.
21.6 The final set of proposals deals with the institutions
of the Partnership. The Commission calls on EU Member States to
ratify Association Agreements within two years. It suggests increasing
the role of the EuroMed Committee and enhancing economic dialogue
on a thematic basis.
21.7 Although addressed to the Council and the European
Parliament, the Commission Communication is intended for all members
of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, and the Mediterranean partners
have received copies.
The Government's view
21.8 The Minister for Europe (Mr Peter Hain) says that
the ideas in the Communication will be discussed at the Valencia
meeting, and some may make their way into the Presidency Conclusions
of the meeting. He comments:
"Overall the Government welcomes the proposals put forward
by the Commission for discussion. They maintain the focus on co-operation
between the 27 Partners and further work towards the creation
of a free trade area. Now that the trade relationship between
north and south is virtually complete (with only Syria yet to
agree an Association Agreement with the EU), it is right that
the focus should turn to improving the trading relationship between
the Med partners. Co-operation on rules of origin and services
will aid that relationship.
"The events of 11 September have meant that greater consideration
should be given to the region's security and to mutual respect
in the region for the cultures and civilisations contained within
it. The Commission Communication rightly focuses on the development
of co-operation in these areas. It also suggested continued small
steps towards further development in other areas of the political
and security volet.
"However, the UK does not agree with all the suggestions
put forward by the Commission. For example, we query the need
for a further level of official discussion (at the level of Political
Directors). The UK considers that what is needed now within the
Partnership is guarantees that issues discussed are put into action.
The UK would also wish to see more detailed analysis on the proposal
for a EuroMed Foundation, and wish to examine how such a Foundation
should be funded. The proposal by the Commission for an investment
facility or bank for the region has now been superseded by discussion
at ECOFIN on 14 March which agreed an additional investment facility
within the EIB [European Investment Bank] be established for the
region initially, to be reviewed after one year".
21.9 This paper is expected to be on the agenda of
the 15/16 April General Affairs Council. It provides a useful
insight into possible future areas of activity for the Euro-Mediterranean
Partnership, as well as a summary of initiatives to date. Whether
the Process is receiving the strong political drive referred to
by the Commission is questionable. There may be an opportunity
to ask the Minister whether he agrees with this statement and
whether any specific proposals were endorsed at the Valencia meeting
when he gives evidence to us on the Barcelona European Council
on 24 April.
21.10 We now clear this document.
11381/00; see HC28-vii (2000-01), paragraph 1 (28 February 2001). Back
15 Member States and 12 Mediterranean partners take part in the
Barcelona Process. The partners are: Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt,
Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Palestinian Authority,
Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. Back