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Nicolas Schmit: "Assessment and definition of new orientations for the Barcelona Process"

Date of Speech : 14-03-2005

Place : Cairo, inaugural plenary session of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA)

Speaker : Nicolas Schmit

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Mr President,



First of all, I would like to thank our Egyptian hosts for the warm welcome we have received in Cairo for this first session of the Europe-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly.

Among the cities symbolising the shared destiny that has linked the two sides of the Mediterranean sea for centuries, Cairo is particularly close to our hearts. The cradle of civilisation, a beacon for so many cultures, Cairo is an exceptional setting for encounters and dialogue.

Approaching its tenth anniversary, the Barcelona Process now finds itself at a crossroads.

Since the Barcelona Declaration in 1995, the process of dialogue and cooperation has endured some difficult periods, but has never been brought to a halt. The prospect of the tenth anniversary of this partnership this coming November is now on our shared horizon of all of us. Our shared aim must above all be based around an uncompromising assessment of this unique partnership.

We have a shared desire to set out new guidelines and to provide a boost to the cooperation needed on both sides of the Mediterranean. The logic of partnership should guide us through this exercise. This reasoning is based on a shared responsibility – a mutual ambition and vision.

Launched in 1995 with new hopes brought about by a desire for peace, the Europe-Mediterranean partnership is now more than ever the central reference point for a cooperative relationship and links of solidarity between the European Union and partner countries around the Mediterranean. Our objectives are clear: to strengthen peace and stability, to promote economic progress, prosperity and democracy and to work towards security in the region.

After a decade of partnership, the time has come to reflect on what has been accomplished and draw lessons for the future. It would therefore be appropriate to make an overall assessment of every aspect making up the Barcelona Process. We must be strong enough to assess what we have achieved without being complacent, and also to identify any shortcomings so that we can set about introducing any necessary improvements.

What we are certainly not doing is breaking up a partnership that has proved its worth through very difficult times. Instead, what we are trying to do is to redefine its actions and broaden their scope, while revitalising the original spirit that governed the adoption of the Barcelona Declaration in 1995. This remains a fundamental document due to its enduring relevance and its huge potential.

And furthermore, both the wider international world and the European Union itself have undergone far-reaching changes since the setting-up of the Process in 1995.

It is perfectly clear that EU enlargement has brought a new dimension to our partnership. Similarly, the desire for reform as set out in the Tunis Declaration arising from the May 2004 Summit of the League of Arab States constitutes a significant part of the future development of our Partnership. We are also mobilised in the fight against terrorism. The eradication of poverty and social, economic and political injustice are all shared goals. Economic development, the defence of human rights and the rule of law, as well as respect for the principle of people's right to self-determination are all part of the framework of our Euro-Mediterranean partnership.

With the launch of the neighbourhood policy, the European Union has decided to grant particular and privileged attention to its closest neighbours with whom it has already set up the necessary contractual framework. This policy does not replace the Barcelona Process, which remains a major political and economic asset.

It will bring added value to our relationships and bring about fresh opportunities. The neighbourhood policy sets out our mutual priorities into a fixed policy schedule with specific and quantifiable objectives. It aims to bolster the Barcelona Process by using action plans negotiated within the institutional framework established by the Europe-Mediterranean association agreements.

Similarly, the European Security and Defence Policy constitutes a new factor which can strengthen the first chapter of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Politcal and security dialogue has intensified. But we have to render it even more effective. New prospects for an overall political solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are fundamental to this. They can help us to move forward in our work towards the negotiation of a Euro-Mediterranean Charter for peace and stability.

Our partnership itself has made considerable progress. Our dialogue is now largely institutionalised, both at bilateral and regional level. All association agreements have been negotiated and most have already come into effect.

At regional level, a solid and regular framework of ministerial meetings enables us to strengthen dialogue and cooperation in fields as important as industry, trade and communication and information technology, amongst many others.

Education, training and jobs must be our shared priorities. Millions of young people are arriving on the job market every year. Significant investment is needed. Our exchanges must be developed further. But we must also deal with issues relating to immigration in a spirit of partnership.

The Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) continues to butress the financial partnership firmly through innovative financial instruments and initiatives to promote the development of the private sector, which plays a crucial role in the creation of jobs.

Overall, the financial resources devoted to our cooperation will have to be used more effectively.

Your Assembly is another example of the progress made within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. As a parliamentary institution of the Barcelona Process in an advisory capacity, it contributes to the reinforcing the visibility and the transparency of the process, and it therefore brings the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership closer to the interests and expectations of public opinions. It also answers to the justified calls for democratic legitimacy of our peoples.

The inauguration of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for dialogue between cultures in Alexandria in April will be a significant step in the promotion of areas of cultural convergence between the countries and peoples of the Mediterranean. The main aims of this Foundation will be to maintain close, regular dialogue between cultural circles and to assist in exchanges, cooperation and closer understanding between people.

The creation of the Anna Lindh Foundation is a decisive step in the implementation of the social, cultural and human partnership of the Barcelona Process. Its geographical location in a partner country on the southern shores of the Mediterranean is hugely symbolic, encouraging the participation of all civil society in the partnership. The idea of the European Parliament, according to which the Foundation should be the main vector of a true alliance of the civilisations around the Mediterranean aimed at the poorest members of society, is worthy of our attention.

Mr President,



After a decade of partnership, we can see that the efforts made on all sides of the Mediterranean have certainly not always met all our expectations. Our region continues to come up against a great many challenges that we have to overcome together. We have to redouble our political will to come up with shared answers and to create the bases for a true Euro-Mediterranean community.

The Barcelona Process has not had all the desired impact in the resolution of regional conflicts. Efforts must therefore be redoubled on all sides in order to contribute to the establishment of a region of peace, stability and prosperity in the Mediterranean region.Your Assembly can greatly contribute to this.

The effectiveness of the partnership could be increased if South-South integration can be pushed forward, particularly through the implementation of the Agadir Agreement, which we must concentrate on. In the absence of a large southern market, our efforts will not achieve their true value.

The assessment process launched under the Luxembourg Presidency has to set out general guidelines about the future evolution of the partnership.

In this context, an open mechanism for refection and dialogue, using the Euromesco and Femise reports as a starting point, was recently launched by a group of Senior Civil Servants.

This evolutive and concerted measure has been organised in a spirit of partnership, so as to enable all parties of the Euro-Mediterranean Process to contribute actively in the search of new orientations, with the shared objective to provide concise, tangible conclusions for the next Euro-Mediterranean Conference of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, to be held in Luxembourg on 30 and 31 May.

In this context, I would like to emphasise once more the importance of your contribution, which will have its proper place in our shared process. In view of the tenth anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration, this purpose will aim to identify the priority areas where shared interest can guide our initiatives. Education and an increase in literacy, economic reforms and increased involvement of civil society in the development of the partnership should be among our main objectives.

In order to strengthen our partnership, we must also pay special attention to the visibility of the Process both in the North and South areas of the Mediterranean, placing particular emphasis on information and communication strategies whose implementation will be decsive for the success of the tenth anniversary of the "Year of the Mediterranean".

I would like to ask all of you to be ambitious but realistic, and to develop a shared vision for our future, without losing sight of what we have to do in the immediate future.

Thank you for your kind attention.

This page was last modified on : 14-03-2005

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