From Barcelona to the UPM (Union for the Mediterranean), a path plagued with professions of faith, statements of intent and above all with disappointments! It is to be convinced that “Barcelona” and dubbed versions, among others, the Neighbourhood policy and the Advanced status, have only served to maintain the illusion of a partnership, which, like the “Unseen character”, is much spoken about, but never seen, or so little.
The Association of International Studies (AIE) addressed the issue at a conference it held on Wednesday, in cooperation with the Delegation of the European Commission in Tunisia and Libya, meant to initiate a thinking involving eminent scholars and former diplomats and officials in Brussels.
The diagnosis was unanimous or so: the system of Euro-Mediterranean partnership has come to a standstill. The Head of the EC Delegation in Tunis, Adrianus Koestsenruijter was the first to acknowledge that as he said that the” zone of prosperity “is challenged by a financial crisis turned into a global economic crisis and that the “zone of peace” seems ever more distant because of the war in Gaza and the hardships marring the Arab-Israeli peace process.
He did say however, that “we can move forward, turn these complications into new opportunities for dialogue and deepen our cooperation and our ambitions.”
Lack of innovation.
The hope is therefore allowed. Except that, as stated by Lotfi Boumghar, from the Algerian Institute for studies on global strategy, “the Euro-Mediterranean partnership has no real life in society nor produces impact on it” attributing this to “the poor record of Barcelona “even if the EU struggles to” breathe life into a dying body”. He cited the Neighbourhood Policy “focused on the European agenda” and the “advanced status” which “lacks innovation” as the ambition of shared prosperity is swallowed up by the Middle East conflict.
Furthermore, the Mediterranean is not a homogenous geopolitical space. The speaker proposed the adoption of a sub regional approach in the form of a grouping involving the western Mediterranean countries.
An analysis which is in all respects that of Abdallah Saaf, Director of the Moroccan Center of studies and research in social sciences and former minister of Education, who checks out no homogeneity in the Euro Mediterranean space and goes even further by stating that “the Berlin Wall was destroyed but replaced by another built in the Mediterranean.” So, he said, the Euro-Mediterranean project is inconsistent and is experiencing a large delay.
He enhanced his argument on the fact that Eastern Europe counties have received ten times more aid than those of southern Mediterranean.
“Every house has a threshold”.
On the European Union side, positions don’t move an inch, and this is to be probably the case for a long time even if there is talk of ”reasonable pragmatism”, “major projects “and” the need to do everything possible to reactivate all the structures of Euro Mediterranean dialogue and cooperation.
However, the ambassador of Belgium to Tunisia added sententiously in this respect that” every house has a threshold”.
Finally, we will not fail to think about what was has been said by a former Italian official of the European Commission where he served for more than 30 years who asked the Maghreb countries to rethink the redistribution of wealth in order to keep at home nationals wishing to emigrate to Europe.