Union for the Mediterranean project

The transformations that followed the end of the Cold War have generated in many countries a sense of insecurity and instability, and among these regions is the Mediterranean Basin, whose banks are linked between developed countries in the North and backward countries in the South, where this region faces mainly social and economic threats, such as Illegal immigration, international terrorism, organized crime and others… what prompted European countries to reconsider their relations with the countries of the southern bank of the Mediterranean, and to establish projects between the two parties to establish security and peace , and among these projects, the Union for the Mediterranean project …

First – stages of launching the Union for the Mediterranean project:

French President “Nicolas Sarkozy” launched the proposal for a Mediterranean Union during his electoral campaign on February 7, 2007, in his speech in Toulon in which he declared that the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue that began twelve years ago in Barcelona had failed to achieve its goals and that this failure was expected. As long as Europe’s priority was in the East, the initiative presented by Nicolas Sarkozy to a number of Mediterranean capitals that he visited shortly after his election victory, and five months after that, on October 23, 2007 President Nicolas Sarkozy presented in his speech in Tangiers a more broad view of the initiative. In his speech, he argued that the UfM did not seek to replace the “Barcelona Process”, but aimed to give it a new impetus to go and move to another level.

On December 20, 2007, the French diplomacy succeeded in bringing together the heads of the republics and governments of France, Italy and Spain in a tripartite summit held in Rome, represented in a set of turns that reflect taking into account the Spanish and Italian objections to the initiative of the Mediterranean Union, the most important of which is: changing the name of the project from The Union for the Mediterranean “to the” Union for the Mediterranean “, meaning that the matter is no longer about a political union of the Mediterranean, but rather a unified effort for peace, prosperity and dialogue, in addition to emphasizing the separation between the Union for the Mediterranean and Turkey’s project to join the European Union, despite France’s taking Their position was strongly opposed to its accession, but its participation in the Union for the Mediterranean was encouraged, and as a final result of German doubts about the initiative, on March 02, 2008 a meeting of Sarkozy with Angela Merkel had resulted in Sarkozy’s concession that the Union for the Mediterranean should expand to accommodate all countries European Union.

Within the framework of the observations of the European Council held on March 14-13, 2008, the project was changed under a new name “Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean”, and the paragraph dedicated to it was as follows: “The European Union agreed on the principle of a Union for the Mediterranean that includes member states in The European Union, and the countries bordering the Mediterranean that are not members of the European Union, and the Council calls on the Commission to present to it the necessary proposals in order to define arrangements for what we will call: “Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean”. Indeed, it has launched the “Barcelona Process: Union for The Mediterranean “at the Euro-Mediterranean summit meeting in Paris on July 13, 2008, affirmed the joint declaration ratified during the meeting of heads of state and government that the initiative aims to give the Barcelona process” a new impetus “, and the declaration affirms that” the Barcelona Process: Union for Average “It is based on the Barcelona Declaration and its objectives to build peace, stability and security, in addition to the Barcelona principle of “multilateral partnership”.

It was reaffirmed through the Paris Declaration of July 13 – 2008, whose meeting was chaired by the French and Egyptian Presidents, in which 43 European and Mediterranean countries participated, that the new partnership aims to “inject new and continuous momentum and strengthen the main fields of cooperation that were established in the Barcelona process.” By including semi-annual summits between heads of state and government held alternately in the European Union and in the Mediterranean countries, taking into account these goals, the final statement of the Marseille Ministerial Meeting on November 3-4, 2008 announced an introduction to the new institutional framework of the Union from For the Mediterranean, and indicating that the parties will work to make the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and support the peace process. The statement also lists areas of cooperation for the year 2009 and projects of a regional level.

The headquarters agreement was signed between the Union for the Mediterranean and the government of Spain on May 04, 2010 whereby the General Secretariat obtained the privileges and immunities of an international organization under Spanish law, where the headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean is located in Barcelona, ​​Spain, and the tasks of the General Secretariat were defined For the Union, the regional projects were re-coordinated in order to be in line with the principles of international law, where the Secretariat holds meetings to discuss project proposals and approve the budget of the General Secretariat and its work programs

The Mediterranean Union project was built according to the following limits and conditions:

It must be pragmatic and move its engineering according to the specific projects.

He sets from the start, among the priorities, culture, education, health and human capital, as well as justice and the struggle to combat inequality.

– It is a consortium of projects in order to make the Mediterranean “the largest laboratory in the world for joint development.”

The Union will not replace existing initiatives and projects, but rather its mission will be to give them new impetus.

– It will be based on a political will that translates itself into concrete and joint actions.

– Not to confuse the Mediterranean Union with the Barcelona process, provided that the Commission is a full partner of the Mediterranean Union.

Second – motives of the Union for the Mediterranean project:

This project had several motivations that can be identified as follows:

– economic motives: It is strongly related to the Mediterranean countries in terms of economic resources and markets for Europe in general and France in particular.

– politically motivated: it relates to the American orientation towards the Middle East and Europe ‘s inability to counter the influence of its own, as well as the failure of European policies towards the Mediterranean region and the weakness of its policies towards the Middle East.

– security motives: the obsession with private security after the September 11 events and the Declaration of the United States war on terrorism , making concern the security of the Europe , especially with the increase in immigration rates are very large, and therefore began to search for new mechanisms adapted to the developments of the current international situation , to secure this concern.

– International competition: The international rush of major and developed countries to search for new alternatives and rich in resources, and fertile ground for large investments, made China, Japan, India and the United States compete towards Africa, thirsty for economic and human development, and this Chinese penetration into the southern Mediterranean countries created a European awareness Towards the need to change the old European policies and expand the interests of partnership to benefit non-European countries as well.

– The failure of the European policy that I have followed since 2004, which is called the “European Neighborhood Policy”, which, as it is referred to from its title, is a single European policy towards some countries and not a common European policy within a true partnership according to the Barcelona Declaration. The preference that it followed in dealing in the field of investment, trade, or facilities towards some countries but not others, and thus entered the Mediterranean region within the framework of bilateral agreements between Europe as a unit and the Mediterranean countries selected separately, and this aspect is much weaker than the terms and mechanisms of Barcelona’s work, and the declaration emptied of its true content and future goals Envisaged.

Third – Objectives of the Union for the Mediterranean Project:

– The formation of an “organized council” under the rotating presidency similar to the model of the rotating presidency of the European Union, to deal with issues of energy, security, immigration, trade and combating terrorism.

Exchanging the French expertise in nuclear energy with the gas reserves of North Africa (Algeria, Libya, Egypt).

– The aspiration to make this “Mediterranean Union” an engine for cooperation in the Mediterranean region.

– Establishing a “Mediterranean investment bank” similar to the “European Investment Bank” model, whose tasks are to provide assistance for the development of the economies of southern Mediterranean countries.

As for the French goals of the federation, there were a number of goals in this framework, namely:

To consolidate France’s interests and role in the Arab region, particularly in North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, and give the European Union a strong push towards a new global political role in the Mediterranean and the world.

– Excluding Turkey from membership in the European Union by shifting its viewpoint from the goal of membership in the Union to a wider area represented by its accession to the Union for the Mediterranean and playing a role in the arrangements in terms of cooperation and security at the regional level. 

France’s desire to return to the Middle East and play a major role in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

IV – Reactions to the Union for the Mediterranean project:

Here are some reactions from the European and Mediterranean sides:

Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel had rejected President Sarkozy’s initial project, which was limited to the coastal countries bordering the Mediterranean, and said, “This creates a dangerous situation, as Germany could head to Central and Eastern Europe while France heads to the Mediterranean, and that will create unpleasant tension.” Sarkozy responded by stating that the Union for the Mediterranean would include all 27 member states of the European Union, making the new project an extension of the Barcelona process, and Merkel later stated that this union would move the Barcelona process to another level .

Spain: Spain expressed its reservations and fears that the project would undermine the Barcelona process to achieve the same goals that the new federation is trying to achieve. However, Madrid returned afterwards to alleviate its doubts about the French initiative after it was agreed that the union would not be a new independent entity on the ruins of the Barcelona process. But it would complement this process, and thus there were hopes that the new initiative would be just a step to develop the “Barcelona Process”.

Morocco: Morocco stressed that it is important for its country to conclude an agreement with the European Union within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy.

Algeria: Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika affirmed that there are obstacles that must be overcome, especially the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Western Sahara, and that there must be communication between the objectives of the Union for the Mediterranean and its general lines and the existing mechanisms, as the Algerian Foreign Minister at the time summed up by saying that ” This initiative should be inspired by previous experiences and be part of a more concrete approach in the field of joint development and diversification of exchanges, with priority given to the freedom of movement of people who will be factors for the sustainability of this cooperation. “

Sources and references:

Qassem Mohamed Abdel-Dulaimi, “The Arabs from the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership to the Union for the Mediterranean: A Study of Variables and Attitudes”. Al-Nahrain University Journal, Faculty of Political Sciences, B.C.N.

Jafar Adalah, “The Evolution of Policies of the European Union Countries After the Cold War in the Maghreb Region”. “Journal of the Social Sciences”. AR 19, December 2014.

Juweida Hamzawy, “The European Security Perception: Toward a Comprehensive Security Architecture and a Strategic Identity in the Mediterranean”. El Hadj Lakhdar University of Batna, Faculty of Law and Political Science, Department of Political Sciences, a supplementary note to obtain a master’s degree in political science, specializing in Maghreb and Mediterranean studies in cooperation and security.

Lotfi Tire, “New European trends in the Mediterranean region”. Abu Bakr University in Gaid Tlemcen, Faculty of Law and Political Science, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Graduation Memorandum submitted for obtaining a master’s degree in political science, specializing in international relations, 2012.

Zahia Kuttab, “The Euro-Maghreb Partnership: Its Dimensions and Stakes.” Hamid Bin Badis Mostaganem University, Faculty of Law and Political Science, a PhD thesis in law specializing in International Business Law, 2019.

Union for the Mediterranean, article published on Al-Jazeera Net 01/04/2011, accessed 11/17/2020 Time: 10:00.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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