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GO-EUROMED — Result In Brief

Project ID: 28386
Funded under: FP6-CITIZENS
Country: Germany

Revamping the Mediterranean partnership

The EU's partnership with Mediterranean countries has been fraught with challenges that hamper progress on both sides. A recent EU initiative investigated the reasons behind this and what could be done to improve collaboration.
Revamping the Mediterranean partnership
The Euro-Mediterranean partnership (EMP) was launched in 1995 and designed to improve cooperation with countries around the Mediterranean basin on three main issues or 'baskets' – the political and security, economic and financial and socio-cultural spheres. Experts and policymakers, however, today agree that the partnership has not lived up to its aims and expectations, prompting calls for investigation into its shortcomings and a need to address them.
In this light, the EU-funded project 'The Political Economy of Governance in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership' (GO-Euromed) analysed the EMP based on its performance as a framework for bargaining among members. The project also analysed the EMP's results in terms of political and economic outcomes.

GO-Euromed found that most challenges faced in the EMP arise from the very different priorities of the nations involved, as each country pursues its own interests competitively and independently. Political and security cooperation has been slow, while some progress has been made in the economic and financial basket. Meanwhile, the socio-cultural basket has not increased the role of civil society actors as intended. On the positive side all parties have agreed to re-energise cooperation under the more recent Union for the Mediterranean (UPM) launched in 2008.

The project attributed the limited progress to unbalanced EU efforts among member countries, Mediterranean governments' idiosyncrasies and rules that favour the EU much more. It is also unlikely for the Arab states, Israel, Turkey and the Western Balkans to agree on common issues, noting that the Arab states could benefit significantly from the UPM framework.

Progress must be made on the exact scope of different UPM institutions and the role of governments in these institutions. EU states must resist the temptation to control the process, as solid progress cannot be realised if Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPCs) are not given a real say in decision making. Europe must keep in mind that the UPM was not designed to instigate political reform but to advance collaboration on specific issues.

Looking to the future, the UPM even has potential to introduce new policy areas where previous bilateral or EU negotiations failed. Europe would be wise to listen to the recommendations of GO-Euromed in order to accrue mutually beneficial outcomes of this partnership.

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