Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/mediterranean : Sarkozy Scales Down Club Med' Ambitions

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/mediterranean : Sarkozy Scales Down Club Med' Ambitions

Article excerpt

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will face the challenging task of convincing his European partners to embark on his Mediterranean Union project during the European summit, on 13 March in Brussels. Sarkozy, jointly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, will outline for the first time to his European counterparts a watered down version of the original plan he had presented during his election campaign and that had sparked controversy across the EU.

Following an agreement reached with Merkel, on 3 March in Hanover, after several months of increasing tensions between Paris and Berlin, a joint Franco-German proposal will be presented to the European leaders over dinner. In order to satisfy the non-Mediterranean members of the EU, who feared to be excluded from the original plan, the MU will be open to all EU capitals and will not compete with the Euromed partnership launched in 1995. "It will be a Barcelona plus," admitted a French diplomat, signalling a clear backtracking by Paris, which had first envisaged a brand new framework.

Sarkozy will propose to formally launch the MU during the French Presidency of the EU, at a summit to be held on 13 July in France, where the 27 member states plus the partner countries from the southern Mediterranean would be invited. The MU will be supported by a specific secretariat and will be co-chaired by two countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, respectively from the south and the north. …

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