The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM): A critical Review
The aim of the paper would be to critically analyse the UfM and assess whether it is in a position to effectively deliver on its mandate. In order to do this, the paper should look at the developments leading to the creation of the UfM, appraise its institutional novelties, evaluate the influence of ï¿½outsideï¿½ factors, as well as assess whether the 2008-based initiative takes cognise of the realities within the Euro-Mediterranean region.
The historical perspective will look at the validity of the initiative as first proposed in 2007 by the then French President, the reactions to this proposal, as well as the negotiations which led to the ï¿½Europeanizationï¿½ of the initiative and it eventual launching in 2008. The work will also assess the consequences of the initial difficulties encountered by the initiative ï¿½ contentions over the role of the Arab League, the on-going Israeli-Palestinian tensions, particularly the Gaza crisis between 2008/9, lack of concrete funding, as well as the repeated cancelling of Summit Meetings. The research will also look at intra-Arab relations and their possible effects on the effective functioning and performance of the UfM.
The work will also look at and evaluate the newly created structures and novelties introduced in this multilateral framework ï¿½ the decision for meetings to be held on a regular basis, every two years, at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Summit Meetings, the Co-Presidency and the affect of the Lisbon Treaty on this, the setting up and role of the Secretariat in Barcelona, headed by the Secretary General and six Deputy Secretary Generals. The latter were to head six ï¿½unitsï¿½ covering what, in 2008/9, where considered to be the priority areas for the region. Under the UfM, these priority areas were meant to develop EU-Mediterranean relations into more concrete and visible expressions, through regional and sub-regional projects, relevant for the citizens of the region, via the notion of variable geometry.
The paper will further value the effective membership of the UfM which, by 2008, reached a larger scope and geographical expansion than ever before; besides the 28 EU members, there are 17 Mediterranean partners with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Monaco and Montenegro newly admitted at the 2008 Paris summit; Libya remains an observer state taking part in the project. Participants include not only many EU members without a Mediterranean coast but also Mauritania and Jordan (which also lack this characteristic) ï¿½ possibly because they had previously been included in the EMP. What is more, the single partners can be characterized through a variegated mixture of different ties with the EU besides the UfM, ranging from the observer state of Libya â€“ today having no contractual ties to the EU- to others like Egypt and Tunisia that take part in the ENP, to Turkey, which is currently negotiating an EU accession. It will also be interesting to analysis the notion of the ï¿½Southern neighboursï¿½ when referring to the EUï¿½s partner states in the UfM, given that states, such as Monaco, the Balkans or even Turkey, are found further north on a map than the EU member state, Cyprus. The presence of the League of Arab States has, indirectly, enlarged the geographical scope of the UfM towards the Middle East.
The research will also critically analysis the institutional documents which govern the workings of the UfM ï¿½ particularly the Statues, the Project Guidelines, financing instruments, as well as the Final Statement, Marseille (November 2008) and the Joint Declaration of the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean (July 2008)
The effectiveness of the UfM, in the wake of the Arab Spring, will be analysed, keeping in mind the new realities that these revolutions have brought with them. With the unforeseen and unpredictable call for democracy and changes from the Southern Mediterranean countries, the political terrain of the region has profoundly changed and new challenges have made their way in the old framework of relations between the EU and its southern neighbours. In this sense, it will be useful to study how such changes and transformations have impacted the relations between the EU and its Mediterranean Neighbours and, subsequently, how such changes have impacted this initiative.
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