Paris Summit for the Mediterranean

Launched a little over a year ago by the French Head of State, the Union for the Mediterranean project, which aims to strengthen and deepen the cooperation between both sides of the Mediterrean, was officially inaugurated on July 13th 2008 at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, which brought together 43 European and Mediterranean States, the Community institutions and the regional organisations.

Having acknowledged the widening disparities in the development between each side of the Mediterranean, thereby increasing the risk of instability in the whole region, the President of the French Republic, joined now by all his European and Mediterranean counterparts, has initiated a new dynamic impetus to promote partnership in the Mediterranean. It will build on the achievements of the Barcelona Process, inaugurated 13 years ago mainly on the initiative of Spain and France, but also intends to considerably develop its aspirations, functioning and its means for action.

The Union for the Mediterranean project is based on three simple but essential principles: a political mobilisation at the highest level through Summits of Heads of State and Government every two years; a governance on an equal footing, in the form of a North-South co-presidency and a permanent secretariat with equal representation; a prioritising of concrete projects with a regional dimension that create de facto solidarity.

The Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, was attended by the Heads of State and Government of the 27 Member States of the European Union, the 12 Mediterranean countries which are members of the Barcelona Process and the other four countries bordering the Mediterranean, together with the heads of the largest international and regional organisations, already promises to be a major political event.

The President of the French Republic and current President of the European Council Union welcomed the participants to the Grand Palais for an afternoon of debates which concluded in the adoption of the first main concrete projects of the Union for the Mediterranean. On the agenda for discussion were:

  • Environmental and energy problems, focusing on proposals for the de-pollution of the Mediterranean, the development of solar energy and water management.
  • Solutions to increased natural hazards and the infrastructure and transport deficit through joint civil protection programmes and the development of motorways of the sea.
  • Economic and social development challenges in the Medierranean which could be partially resolved by actions to support small and medium enterprises and by support programmes for higher education and research.

As a result of the Summit, Heads of State and Government signed in Paris the Joint Declaration where they underline the important role played by the Barcelona Process since 1995, which has been the central instrument for Euro-Mediterranean relations. Early May this year, the Commission published a Communication assessing the results of the Barcelona Process and presented an initiative based in its success, enhancing them, and also recognising the deficiencies that hindered a faster development.