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Need for Mediterranean Union plans 'urgent', says EU

April  1, 2008

World  Observer- European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has called for the urgent delivery of plans for a Mediterranean Union, international press reports said. Speaking over the weekend at an Athens meeting of parliamentary presidents from the 37 member states of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, Barroso said: "The Mediterranean is an absolute priority for Europe, a priority on which delivery has now become urgent."

On 14 March, the EU approved the Mediterranean Union plan promoted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. France is expected to present detailed plans and host a summit on the issue in July, when the country takes over the six-month rotating EU presidency. Some 27 EU members and 12 Mediterranean nations, including Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia are to be included in the Union.


France and Egypt to lead setting up of Mediterranean Union

April 1 , 2008  ( EUNews) - The presidents of France and Egypt will become the first leaders of the Mediterranean Union due to be launched in July 2008.

EU leaders last month approved a proposal by France and Germany to establish the Mediterranean Union - a club of EU member states and other countries having access to the Mediterranean Sea, designed to streamline migration policy, and encourage trade and environmental protection.

The London-based Saudi newspaper said the organization is planning to have two chairpersons - one from the EU and the other from other states. "An agreement has almost been reached to assign the posts: Nicolas Sarkozy will lead the Union on behalf of Europe, and Hosni Mubarak on behalf of the remaining Mediterranean countries."

The organization's head office will be based in Tunisia and will have two divisions - European and Mediterranean, employing 20 officials, who will manage and monitor projects and organize biennial summits

The Union's establishment is expected to be announced in Paris on July 13 during a Euro-Mediterranean summit, which will be attended by 43 heads of state, as well as chiefs of the Arab League and the African Union.

Originally France proposed the Union should comprise only EU member states and countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, but this was vehemently rejected by Germany and some other EU states, who said it would reduce EU influence and could undermine other organizations, namely the Barcelona Process or Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.

The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership comprises 37 countries, including all 27-EU states and 10 Mediterranean nations: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian National Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.

Poettering elected new president of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly

ATHENS 4.1.08

The head of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering, was  elected the new president of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) during its annual plenary meeting in Athens on Friday. 

Poettering, a German Christian-Democrat, takes over the presidency for a period of one year on behalf of the European Parliament until March 2009.

With Romania and Bulgaria joining the EU in 2007, the Assembly has expanded from 240 Members to 260 in total. 130 MPs now represent the European Union (49 MEPs and 81 MPs appointed by the parliaments of the 27 EU Member States) and 130 represent the national parliaments of the non-EU Mediterranean partners: Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.

In his address, Poettering said the political priorities of his mandate will be the peace process in the Middle East and intercultural dialogue.

Regarding the Middle East he called for a lasting solution for the conflict based on "respect for human life, the achievement of security through reconciliation, and compliance with international law".

He recalled the initiatives that have taken place in the European Parliament, including the solemn sessions with relevant personalities, his official visits to Arab countries and Israel, and the setting up of a Working Group on the Middle East.

He also suggested that an extraordinary plenary meeting of the Assembly could take place in the Middle East region in the autumn. It would be devoted to the peace process as well as to concrete regional cross-border cooperation on concrete issues like water and energy.

Union for the Mediterranean

Earlier this month, European Union leaders backed a French plan to forge closer political ties with Europe's North African and Mideast neighbors along the Mediterranean Sea, called "Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean."

The project foresees the involvement of 39 partners, the 27-nation EU in addition to a dozen Mediterranean countries - from Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Syria and Turkey.

France is scheduled to hold a summit on the issue in July when it takes over the six-month rotating EU presidency.

The original EU’s "Euromed" programme, was launched in 1995 in Barcelona to foster economic, political and social reforms in the Middle East and North Africa. It aimed at creating a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area by 2010 but progress has been slow due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the refusal of many Arab states to abide by international human rights standards.

"I think it is undeniable that the major single issue that has held us back is the enduring Middle East conflict," Jose-Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said.

"We need to move from intentions to deliver, we need a Euro-Med of results," he added.

Barroso said the region is faced with "major challenges in achieving peace, security and prosperity."

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