Union for the Mediterranean has given ‘renewed vigour’ to ties with southern neighbours
The Union for the Mediterranean “has given renewed vigour to Europe’s relationship with its southern neighbours”, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Benita Ferrero-Waldner has told the plenary meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Brussels.
In a speech entitled ‘Wider Europe – the last five years’, the Commissioner said the development of the ENP was “a long overdue recognition that the EU’s interests are tightly bound up with developments in its eastern and southern borders and that we need stable and predictable relationships with our neighbours. In short: if we don't ‘export’ stability, we risk ‘importing’ instability.”
Commissioner Ferrerp-Waldner underlined that concrete projects lay at the core of the Union for the Mediterranean, “aiming for a visible impact on people’s lives by promoting growth, employment, regional cohesion and socio-economic integration”.
The Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership provides capital to the private sector on terms that are not available locally, she added. “We are working on clean energy initiatives like the Mediterranean Solar Plan. And we are supporting the development of an efficient and integrated Euro-Mediterranean Transport Network.”
She said establishing a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area remained an important objective, pointing to the first agreement on conformity assessment, signed in July with Israel and looking forward to the expected conclusion of negotiations on the liberalisation of trade in services and the right of establishment with Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Israel next year.
But the Commissioner acknowledged the weight of political obstacles: “Of course the Union for the Mediterranean has been affected by the same political issues as the Barcelona Process. We hope soon to see a return to negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.”
The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership