Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/mediterranean : Clock Ticking for Union for the Mediterranean

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/mediterranean : Clock Ticking for Union for the Mediterranean

Article excerpt

Much work still needs to be done over a very short period of time in order to launch the Union for the Mediterranean (UM), on 13 July, during an extraordinary summit in Paris, as decided by EU leaders during the last European Council. The European Commission and France are stepping up their efforts in order to turn into reality the Franco-German project endorsed by the spring summit without undermining the existing Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.

"We are already working intensively," said, on 3 April, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who has been mandated to make some proposals on the functioning of the future UM and present concrete projects that could be launched in Paris. Following a first discussion at the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) on 2 April, the Commission has promised to come back to the member states with a first set of draft proposals by mid-May. Meanwhile, discussions with southern partners and member states will take place both during regular EuroMed meetings and also "outside" this framework, according to a French diplomat.

The task is challenging, since the road map given by the European Council on 14 March, following a joint proposal made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, remains very general. The Franco-German paper plans the setting up of a small secretariat to manage concrete projects and a co-presidency but does not go into specifics about how these new instruments should work. …

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