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The Political Economy of Governance in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership

Final Report Summary - GO-EUROMED (The Political Economy of Governance in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership)

The GO-EUROMED project started on 1 January 2006 and it was designed to be implemented over three years, ending in December 2008. The project is structured in three stages, each lasting one year. These phases have been designed to incorporate research that improves scientific and technical understanding of the state-of-the-art for the respective topics, as well as providing policy insights for the European Commission, EU Member States governments, MPC governments, and other public sector bodies as well as private companies and individuals with an interest in Euro-Mediterranean relations. Moreover, each phase builds upon previous research findings and therefore constitutes a logical, analytical extension of the previous stage. GO-EUROMED's major milestones have been timed to provide partners with the opportunity to present research findings during and at the conclusion of each stage of the project.

The Euro-Mediterranean partnership (EMP) has been extensively analysed since its launch in Barcelona in 1995. Much of this research and commentary has aimed to judge the EMP's progress towards its stated goals of achieving a shared area of peace, stability and prosperity in the Mediterranean Basin, often holding these rather abstract notions up as benchmarks. Inevitably, many analysts have come to the conclusion that the Barcelona Process has failed, and that the Mediterranean basin is not nearly peaceful, stable or prosperous enough. Some analyses have assessed progress based on the subject-matter of the Barcelona Process' three baskets, and have used as benchmarks aggregate values such as GDP per capita, or indicators that measure democratic transition or political stability. Other analyses have focussed on programme-based goals: target-specific assessment in terms of allocated funds, measurements of the integration of relevant actors, and achievements in certain programme related areas such as public administration management, civil protection and international crime prevention. The rich EMP literature also includes dense descriptions of policy achievements in areas like institution building, trade liberalisation, security dialogue and migration. Many of these analyses agree that the Barcelona Process has not lived up to the high expectations that were raised by its launch.

The GO-EUROMED consortium's approach has been to analyse the EMP based on an understanding of the functioning of the institutional framework for negotiations. European and Mediterranean partner governments and the European Commission view the Barcelona Process in light of the benefits it can bring, the actual and potential restrictions it entails, and the opportunities it provides for them to pursue their interests. The GO-EUROMED consortium's intention has been to assess the EMP according to its performance as a framework for bargaining among its participant actors, and its results in terms of political and economic outcomes.

The Union for the Mediterranean (UPM), launched with great fanfare in Paris on 13 July 2008, is a proposal to change the framework for Euro-Mediterranean bargaining so that Mediterranean partners have a greater say in the decision-making process. While the UPM initiative no longer resembles President Sarkozy's original idea for a Union comprised only of countries bordering the Mediterranean, the French government has nonetheless succeeded in returning Mediterranean issues to the top of the EU foreign policy agenda. With their attendance at the UPM's launch party, Mediterranean partner governments sent a strong signal to Europe of the importance they attach to multilateral relations with European countries - provided they are able to influence negotiations. Initially, the UPM will focus on relatively uncontroversial projects including motorway building and de-pollution. But like most European agreements, the UPM has the heuristic characteristics of a negotiated framework that can be expanded into more sensitive issue areas over time.

The aim of this report is to analyse and assess the EMP according to the results of research carried out by the GO-EUROMED consortium during the last three years. In doing so, we outline the EMP negotiation framework's main features, and assess its contribution to efficient bargaining over the costs of providing political and economic stability in the Mediterranean Basin. We then discuss the ways in which national governments and the EU have used the EMP framework to work towards their goals in the EMP's three 'baskets' - the political and security partnership, the economic and financial partnership, and the social, cultural and human partnership.

While the UPM initiative no longer resembles President Sarkozy's original idea for a Union comprised only of countries bordering the Mediterranean, the French government has nonetheless succeeded in returning Mediterranean issues to the top of the EU foreign policy agenda and raising their prominence internationally. With their attendance at the UPM's Paris launch party, Mediterranean partner governments sent a strong signal to Europe of the importance they attach to multilateral relations with European countries - provided they are able to have a greater influence on negotiations.

When we consider the existing EMP framework as a simple bargaining structure with two groups of actors - European countries on one side and Mediterranean partner countries on the other - the weaknesses in the institutional setting quickly become apparent. European countries have diverse interests regarding the Mediterranean, but are able to use the EU as an equilibrating mechanism to reach a common bargaining position. The EMP, with its objectives, budget and organisational structure, is the outcome of this intra-EU process. On the south Mediterranean side governments also have diverse interests and priorities towards the EU. But as no equivalent equilibrating mechanism exists, each country tries to pursue its interests independently and competitively. This creates problems for Mediterranean partner countries faced with the prospect of negotiating with a huge bloc. It also creates problems for the EU, which is faced with 10 negotiating partners with diverse preferences, all of which it must try to satisfy at the same time.

The results of the EMP's first 13 years have been mixed, and most analysts have been disappointed with progress in the three baskets. Political and security cooperation, in particular, has been slow - ambitions to build a comprehensive, formal regional security agreement quickly reached deadlock and the Euro-Mediterranean Charter for Peace and Stability was shelved in 2000. The region's governments have entered into bilateral cooperation on illegal migration and terrorism outside the EMP framework, leading to a relatively stable but sub-optimal equilibrium. In the economic and financial basket, there has been more activity and significant windows of opportunity remain to be exploited, especially in energy and macroeconomic governance. But progress has been piecemeal and beset by deadlocks, especially in agriculture and services. Initiatives conducted under the socio- cultural basket, designed to support economic and political progress, have not increased the role of civil society actors in the EMP and have struggled to reach a broad public in south Mediterranean countries.

Two reasons for this mixed progress are the varied intensity of EU and Mediterranean partner government preferences for closer cooperation under the EMP, and the asymmetric nature of the rules of the game, which are heavily weighted in Europe's favour. Nevertheless, the EMP framework remains in place, and the region's governments have agreed that it is in their interests to try to revive cooperation under the new Union for the Mediterranean.

Several potential stumbling-blocks remain to be overcome if the UPM is to make a positive impact on Euro-Mediterranean cooperation. In the set-up phase, the keenest bargaining has involved the precise mandates of the various UPM institutions and the role of governments in these institutions. The outcome of bargaining on these details as the UPM takes shape will reflect the political will of actors on both sides. For the EU and its Member States, the temptation to try to retain control of the process is high, especially as the European Commission's technical expertise will be called upon as institution-building proceeds. But efficient outcomes that benefit all actors are unlikely unless MPCs are given a real say in decision-making. For south Mediterranean governments, the inability to form a common position towards Europe has long been a problem. While political reality suggests that Turkey, Israel, Arab states from the Maghreb and Mashreq, and new MPCs from the Western Balkans are unlikely to come together on many issues, the Arab countries in particular would gain significantly if they are able to use the UPM framework to formulate joint bargaining approaches.

It is important for analysts assessing the progress of cooperation under the Barcelona Process to remember that the proposed UPM is not designed to foster political reform in Mediterranean partner countries. Rather, it is a proposal to improve the efficiency of bargaining on specific issues where mutually beneficial outcomes are likely, based on negotiations among sovereign governments in a multilateral framework. Over time, this framework has the potential to expand into more controversial policy areas, including those where negotiations have reached effective deadlock under the EMP. The expectation should be that by encouraging commitment to a framework in which MPCs have a real stake, concrete benefits may accrue to all partner countries.

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