Select Committee on European Union Ninth Report



PART 2: THE COMMON MEDITERRANEAN STRATEGY—EVIDENCE AND ANALYSIS

19. The evidence to the Sub-Committee largely focused on two separate matters: first, on the general concept of the CMS and then on the content of the CMS.

20. In respect of the first, questions were asked about whether the Mediterranean was a coherent region with which the EU could deal as a single unit using a single policy instrument; and if so, whether the establishment of a common strategy could add to the mechanisms already in use through the Barcelona Process. The genesis of the CMS, and the degree of consultation undertaken before its implementation, were also topics of some interest.

21. As for the second, much evidence focused on the EU's limited role in the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) and its relevance to the Barcelona Process and the CMS, and on the disbursement of funds under the MEDA programme of aid to Mediterranean partner states. Other evidence was given on the role of energy policy in EU-Mediterranean relations and on the justice and home affairs angle of the CMS, and on the rather limited environmental aspect of the CMS.

Common Strategies and The CMS

THE MEDITERRANEAN, AND ITS IMPORTANCE TO THE EUROPEAN UNION

22. There are several factors that would point to the need for the EU to devise policies that see the Mediterranean area as a coherent whole.

23. Economically, the EU and the Mediterranean partner countries are more interdependent than is often recognized in the northern parts of the EU: in particular, southern Europe is heavily reliant on the CMS countries for its energy needs. As noted by BP, "25 per cent of the oil imports and 44 per cent of the natural gas imports of the southern European countries (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece) come from North African countries. The region is also an important transit route for oil coming from the Gulf countries and, in future, from the Central Asia region as well" (p66). The wider picture is reflected by the fact that the Mediterranean partner states rely on the EU for 51 per cent of their exports and 53 per cent of their imports[8] and, for example, trade with the EU accounts for 65 per cent of Morocco's trade.[9] Interestingly, the Mediterranean countries trade more with the EU than with each other: intra-regional trade accounts for a mere 5 per cent of the 12 countries' trade volume.[10] In part, this is a result of poor infrastructure, but according to the Spanish Ambassador, the Marqués de Tamarón, "The nations to the south of the Mediterranean seem to have great difficulties, not just political, to reinforce and encourage that sort of trade. … Sometimes they simply do not know how to demolish trade barriers." (Q172)

24. Economically, the Mediterranean partner countries all lag very far behind the EU, with the exception of Cyprus, Malta and Israel, and most have a per capita GNP of less than $2,000.[11] Furthermore, their populations are rising at rates of between 1.6 per cent and 3.3 per cent per annum.[12] For example, the Moroccan Ambassador, Mr Mohammed Belmahi, told us that "Seventy per cent of our population is under 20. Tremendous social changes are going on because of the demographics. We have 200,000 persons coming on to the job market every year. By our standards that is a lot. So if we do not improve our economy in order to create that kind of speed of job creation, we have to have a GDP growth of more than 7 per cent a year." (Q91) The situation in Algeria is similar: according to Maitre Saad Djebbar, "Imagine living in a country where you have so many young people. Their best dream is to go to Europe." (Q119) Economics thus inevitably affects one area of enormous concern to most EU states—migration, of both the legal and illegal kind—and it has long been argued that if the EU is to protect itself from unsustainable levels of migration it will have to help provide incentives for the populations of the Mediterranean states to stay at home[13]. As put by the Turkish Embassy,

    "Rapid population growth, high unemployment rates and a lack of sufficient resources that impede development are the major questions. As expectations in areas such as health, education and housing cannot be easily met, social tensions may arise. Insufficient responses to these needs can subsequently lead to migratory tendencies and the increase of extremist influences. These problems cannot be met by one country alone and have to be addressed together" (p88).

25. The security of the EU is also an important factor: according to Lord Wallace of Saltaire, "the Barcelona Process has been fundamentally … the pursuit of political and security objectives through economic and cultural means." (Q58) The Mediterranean basin is the source of many intranational and international conflicts, and while it would appear that the EU has little interest in intervening on the ground[14], few southern Mediterranean states can be regarded as stable. Above all, the situations in Algeria and Israel/Palestine are of continual concern to EU states, but of the non-applicant countries only Tunisia is unaffected by a major internal or external security threat. The area is historically linked to terrorist attacks and hijacking affecting EU countries, and furthermore is the alleged arena of much drug trafficking, people trafficking and organised crime. Thus according to Dr Ian Lesser, Senior Analyst at the RAND Corporation, "questions of stability and security are firmly embedded in the European agenda. Barcelona was always as much about stability as development—"rich" societies attempting to subsidize (but not too heavily) stability across a "poor" southern periphery" (p83).

26. However, while all the above are important, several questions have been raised about just how far the Mediterranean can be regarded as a coherent area. Dr Lesser, for example, points out that the United States, which is not part of the CMS or the Barcelona Process, "has little sense of the Mediterranean as a unified strategic 'space'" (p83) and Lord Wallace of Saltaire notes in any case that "The Americans, of course, define the Mediterranean in very different terms from the Europeans: east/west much more than north/south." (Q49) Indeed, as pointed out by Mr Fabio Petito of the London School of Economics, "in the post-Cold War era, the US official documentation never uses the word 'Mediterranean'. What you'll find instead is the 'Middle East' or the 'Greater Middle East'" (Q51). The CMS deals with countries as far apart as Morocco and Jordan, with applicant and non-applicant countries and, critically, with countries directly involved in the Middle East crisis and with those that are rather less directly involved. In the latter case, it is feasible that the intransigence of some countries will hold back, if not stall outright, some of the policies envisaged by the CMS, and this is particularly a danger when considering the Middle East Peace Process. As put by Dr Stephen Calleya of the University of Malta, "While conceiving of a strategy for the Mediterranean as a whole is possible, implementation of such a strategy stands a better chance of success if it is carried out at a sub-regional level. In the five years since the launching of the Barcelona Process it is quite clear that the Middle East Peace Process has continuously hampered progress in this area." (p70) The Sub-Committee is inclined to agree with the view that the Mediterranean, as defined by the CMS, is too diverse an area to be dealt with by a single common strategy.

THE BARCELONA PROCESS AND THE CMS

27. Some (although not all) of the above issues were dealt with by the Barcelona Process. By the time the CMS was agreed in 2000, however, it was felt by some in the EU that the Process was in need, as the European Commission put it, of "reinvigorating". In a paper[15] in September 2000, the Commission identified several areas of concern, namely:

·  That difficulties in the Middle East Peace Process had slowed progress and limited the extent to which full regional development could develop;

·  That the process of negotiation and ratification of Association Agreements had been slower than expected;

·  That the spirit of partnership had not led to a sufficiently frank and serious dialogue on issues such as human rights, prevention of terrorism or migration;

·  That some partners had been reluctant to accelerate the pace of the economic transition and to introduce the reforms necessary to meet the obligations contained in the Association agreements;

·  That trade between Mediterranean partners (south-south trade) had not increased from its very low point;

·  That implementation of the MEDA programme had been hampered by complicated procedures both in the EU and in partner countries; and

·  That despite awareness of the Barcelona Process at a political level, there was insufficient awareness of the opportunities and benefits of the process in society at large.

28. As put by Professor Jörg Monar, Director of the Centre for European Politics and Institutions at the University of Leicester, "five years after the start of the Barcelona process it has clearly lost a lot of its original impetus." (p86) But in the words of another witness, Bechir Chourou, Professor of International Relations at the University of Tunis, "The Barcelona Process does not need to be reinvigorated or relaunched—it needs to be rebuilt on more solid foundations." (p73).

29. There was thus the question of what to do next. The Vienna European Council of December 1998 was the first to consider specific common strategies, and after the strategies for Russia and the Ukraine it was felt that a Mediterranean common strategy would be a useful tool to reinvigorate Barcelona and to introduce areas, such as justice and home affairs and the European Security and Defence Policy, that had either been left out or that were new. There was some support for this. The Italian Embassy has "no doubt on the usefulness of Common Strategies. Their main value is to direct instruments, policies and initiatives towards a given geographical area inserting them in a clear and consistent framework." (p80). It is argued that the mere existence of a Mediterranean common strategy would help: to Professor Monar, "the primary external purpose appears to be a general reaffirmation of the Union's major political and economic interests in the region and its commitment to further progress with the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership model established by the Barcelona Declaration in 1995." (p86) For example, some felt that the increasing attention paid to the eastern expansion of the EU and to the "northern dimension" was detracting from the Mediterranean. In these circumstances, a reaffirmation of the EU's attention to the problems of the Mediterranean was more than welcome.

30. However, to some witnesses, there is a doubt as to whether there is any "value-added" aspect to the CMS, or indeed to any other common strategy. As put by Roberto Aliboni, Director of Studies at the International Affairs Institute in Rome, the following question needs to be asked:

    "The CMS was set out five years after the inception of the Barcelona process. It is similar, both in wording and in contents, to the Barcelona Declaration. Given the difficulties and obstacles encountered by the Barcelona process so far, what value can the CMS now add to it?" (p63).

31. The answer, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is that "It adds to the Barcelona process by putting the EU's input into relations with the Mediterranean into a coherent framework, thus speeding up internal EU decision-making on Mediterranean Issues." (p12) But other witnesses have found it hard to define what this means. The Italian Embassy says "The document which was adopted, in our opinion, is wide-ranging but leaves key priorities out of focus" (p80). According to Dr Calleya,

    "The common strategy is no more than a formal framework. It spells out what the main EU interests in the region are and by what general means they might be pursued. Although it sets the stage upon which future actions can be taken, it is quite shallow on what specific action the EU will introduce over the next four years in order to further these goals. The Common Strategy thus consists of general options and guidelines and no more should be expected of such a document." (p68).

32. M. Daniel Bernard, the French Ambassador, noted that what goes for the CMS goes for the other common strategies too:

    "the priorities that were identified in the strategies were already covered by other existing instruments—for instance, the partnership in co-operation with Russia and the Ukraine or the Barcelona Process. The common strategy has very little added value compared to these already agreed policies and the very good token of that is that practically the common strategy of the Balkans has been abandoned." (Q194)

33. Others are even less supportive. It appears to them a cosmetic exercise, bland and meaningless, and written in terms so all-encompassing as to be worthless. This may be the intention: as put by Professor Chourou, "A case may be made that those who signed the 1995 Barcelona Declaration were quite aware that many or most of the objectives it set out would not be achieved in the foreseeable future. In fact, few would have signed it if there were even a remote possibility that all of its objectives would be actively pursued." (p70). If this is the case for the Barcelona Declaration, it is even more the case for the CMS: as put by the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, in a paper[16] prepared for the General Affairs Council meeting of 22 January 2001 on common strategies in general,

    "The wide scope of the CS and the particular, sometimes detailed concerns of individual Member States resulted in a "Christmas tree" approach based on the "lowest common denominator" where Member States and the Commission insisted on covering all possible aspects of relations, including so many different issues in the CS that in the end it became difficult to distinguish priorities from questions of secondary importance."[17]

34. When applied to the Mediterranean, Dr Solana continues,

    "the perceived lack of added value of the CS compared with the already comprehensive Barcelona process and the difficulties in defining the relationship between the CS and the EU's role in the Middle East Peace Process have put the consistency of the EU's approach towards the region into question."[18]

THE BIRTH OF THE CMS, AND THE LACK OF CONSULTATION

35. One of the most striking aspects of the CMS is the history of its adoption. For a long time, it was assumed that the CMS would not be adopted at Feira, and the Committee was assured of this shortly before the European Council meeting. However, at the eleventh hour this position was reversed, and the CMS was agreed before parliamentary scrutiny could take place.[19] It appears that the Portuguese Presidency were anxious to produce something to show at the end of their presidency, and thus the CMS was moved from "pending" to "urgent" status. The Portuguese Ambassador, Senhor José Gregório Faria, however, told us that Portugal wanted to conclude the CMS because it had inherited a "mandate" to do so from the previous Finnish presidency, and that "we succeeded, not with any magic device, but because the work was quite well advanced by the Finnish and therefore with some more time the strategy for the Mediterranean was approved." (Q141) But Dr Jones Parry's view is otherwise: the draft CMS inherited by the Portuguese from the Finns was "rather appalling", and he told us that "It was not at all clear throughout the beginning of the Portuguese presidency what they would actually do. At one stage, it rather looked as though they would not push it. The problem was that, all of a sudden, they accelerated and said, "Yes, we would like to go for it at Feira"". (Q4)

36. The adoption of the CMS at Feira meant that it entered into force with virtually no prior consultation. The Mediterranean countries themselves were barely consulted. While the FCO believes that "The Mediterranean partners were generally content with the MCS, although some of them felt that they could have been consulted more fully during the drafting process" (p13), others feel differently. The Malta High Commission, for example, states that:

    "Several Mediterranean partners do not appear keen on the Common Strategy. They argue that the Barcelona Declaration formed the Union's policy towards the Mediterranean region and therefore query the need for a strategy document on the Mediterranean. Furthermore, some also consider that the Common Strategy, albeit an internal document of the Union, should have been discussed with the Mediterranean partners before its adoption." (p85).

37. The Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister for European Union Affairs, Mrs Wafaa Bassim, told us of her surprise in the aftermath of the Vienna decision to set up the MCS:

    "we had already a more complete, comprehensive and agreed upon framework of co-operation represented by the Barcelona Declaration … we repeatedly asked our EU partners to explain, to consult with us on what should be the content of this new common strategy. We even questioned the raison d'être of this strategy, why it should be there when we already have something very strong between us that is well based, that has a line of funding, and that was part of the EU foreign policy." (Q124)

The Content of The CMS

38. As we can see from the above, considerable doubts as to the value of the CMS exist even before the content can be scrutinised. However, there are also several questions that need to be asked in respect of the content. Without examining the CMS line by line, a few specific issues are worth raising.

THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS (MEPP)

39. One area in which the CMS differs from the Barcelona process is in the former's explicit inclusion of the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), although it is only in the context of a comprehensive settlement that the strategy envisages any participation by Member States in the implementation of security arrangements on the ground. According to Miguel Angel Moratinos, the EU's Special Representative to the MEPP, "What is new and unique however is the effort to combine, under one heading, the established EU policy towards the Middle East Peace Process with its developmental partnership programme for the whole non-EU Mediterranean region. Prior to this these two EU strategies have been kept apart, artificially in my view, since naturally the one required the other in order to be successful" (p87). Mr Moratinos continues by stating that "the Barcelona Process should not only be viewed in economic, social and trade related terms, but rather needs to be seen in a wider political context including the security aspects" (pp87-88) and concludes by saying that "the EU Mediterranean programme—the only long-term strategy that is aimed at integrating this region into the world economy—could be the platform on which to create a positive synergy with the ongoing Middle East peace talks in order to facilitate a final settlement in all the tracks (Lebanon, Syria, Palestinians)" (p88). It has also been pointed out, for example by Costanza Musu of the London School of Economics, that the Barcelona Process offered "the only forum in which the conflict parties could meet even when the Peace Process was stalled." (Q74)

40. However, Mr Moratinos's optimism is not shared by many. As Ms Musu continues, "the Barcelona Process itself could not really deliver concrete results until the Peace Process was completed successfully." (Q74). Furthermore, as we have seen, efforts to adopt a Euro-Mediterranean Charter for Peace and Stability at the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial meeting in Marseilles in November 2000 failed. While the Italian Embassy attributed this to "the political climate prevailing in the area at the moment of the Conference" assuring us that "the failure to adopt the Charter in Marseilles does not preclude efforts to start defining a more active role for the EU in the Peace Process" (p82), others are more wary. According to Professor Monar,

    "The issue of the linkage between the Barcelona Process and the Middle East Peace Process caused considerable controversy during the negotiations on the Common Strategy because some Member States had misgivings both about bringing the highly divisive Middle East problems into the context of the Barcelona Process and about potential majority voting on implementing measures regarding the Middle East if the EU's role in the Peace Process would be part of the Common Strategy." (p86).

41. It has also been pointed out by Ms Musu that the EU, "despite being the single major aid donor to the Palestinian Authority, does not have significant influence in the peace process. This situation, I would argue, is due to the fact that so far the EU has been unable to contribute to the security dimension of the peace process." (Q74)

MEDA

42. The MEDA programme has been the primary means by which the European Union has granted money to the Mediterranean countries. In 1995-99, the EU committed itself to providing 4.6 billion euro in grants to the Mediterranean region, comprising 3.4 billion euro through the MEDA programme and 1.2 billion euro under other budgetary lines. In addition, the European Investment Bank granted loans of over 4.6 billion euro. The MEDA programme is now scheduled to receive and disburse 5.35 billion euro in 2000-2006.

Table 1: Breakdown of MEDA commitments and payments by country[20]

MEDA I (1995-1999)—bilateral and regional co-operation
Commitments
Payments
Payments/Commitments
Euro Million
Euro Million
(%)
ALGERIA
164
30
18.2
MOROCCO
656
127
19.4
TUNISIA
428
168
39.3
EGYPT
686
157
22.9
JORDAN
254
108
42.5
LEBANON
182
1
0.5
SYRIA
99
0
0.0
TURKEY
375
15
4.0
West Bank and Gaza Strip
111
54
48.6
Bilateral co-operation
2,955
660
22.3%
Regional co-operation[21]
480
230[22]
48%
TOTAL
3,435
890
26%

43. However, as can be seen in the table above, the programme has come under considerable criticism for the fact that only 26 per cent of the money it has committed to programmes under the scheme has actually been disbursed: for example, according to Dr Jones Parry, the performance of the MEDA programme "so far has been almost totally reprehensible." (Q18). In some countries, the disbursement figure is much lower: in the cases of Lebanon and Syria, only 1 million euro have been paid out, despite a total of 281 million euro in commitments. According to Dr Lesser, "The economic side of EMP has clearly been troubled by problems within the Commission, and by a lack of appropriate projects and expertise in the southern Mediterranean. As a result, even the modest resources devoted to the Barcelona process have not been fully distributed." (p83) The French Ambassador explained the difficulties as follows:

    "One is that the co-operating countries sometimes take time to present their request and to present their project, so the responsibility is not purely to be put on the shoulders of inefficient Eurocrats. The second is that the system of checks and controls within the Commission, in the particular instance DG1, is so, I do not know the English word, but I would say courtelinesque, like in Courteline in the French theatre, complicated. It goes through so many checks that finally things seem to be getting lost in the sand." (Q212)

44. Such concerns have resulted in an effort to improve the procedures. According to Mr David Frost, Deputy Head of the European Union Department (External) at the FCO, "What the new MEDA regulation does is introduce much more effective management procedures. It tries to make the procedure more effective. It tries to encourage more rapid disbursement. It tries to focus it a little bit more on the poorest people in these countries." (Q39)

ENERGY POLICY

45. No economic issue is as important to EU-Mediterranean relations as energy. The interdependence between the Mediterranean EU countries and the non-EU Mediterranean countries is overwhelming: on the one hand, Algeria depends on oil and gas for around 97 per cent of its foreign currency earnings, and on the other hand Spain and Portugal depend on Algeria for, respectively, 75.7 per cent and 100 per cent of their gas imports. The total value of the energy trade between northern Africa and Europe is, according to David Drury, Senior Associate at Economatters Ltd, $30 billion per annum[23]. (p74)

46. The reliance of the EU on this trade appears to be a major factor in the EU's policies towards the Mediterranean countries. According to BP, "The development of international energy trade is of paramount importance in the Mediterranean region because of the need to guarantee energy supplies to the importing countries of the EU and to secure markets for the exporting countries of North Africa" (p66). This, according to Professor Chourou, is half of what the Barcelona process, and subsequently the CMS, is about: "Basically, Europe wanted a secure access to oil and gas and protection against unwanted waves of migrants." (p71)

JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS

47. Bechir Chourou's remarks draw us naturally towards what is regarded by many as one of the most significant new aspects of the CMS. Naturally, there is a great incentive to view not just migration, but drug trafficking and organized crime, as matters regarding urgent action on an international scale. The Turkish Embassy, for example, sees drug trafficking, terrorism and international crime as "areas where joint action is imperative" (p88). Dr Calleya points to the "proliferation of drug consignments which are reaching ever deeper into the civil societies of the Mediterranean, and the accentuation of illegal migratory flows from south to north" (p69). Furthermore, according to Loukas Tsoukalis, Professor of Greek Studies at the London School of Economics, the smuggling of people is now considered by the British security services as a major threat, as is money laundering, "because most states in the Mediterranean are considered to be very heavily involved in money laundering activities and that impacts on the role of London." (Q55)

AGRICULTURE

48. While oil and gas account for a large proportion of many Mediterranean countries' income, they are still by and large agricultural economies. The EU is very keen to impress upon the Mediterranean countries the benefits of free trade, but there is a danger: as put by Professor Chourou, "free trade alone cannot lead to development or solve problems such as poverty, demographic growth or environmental degradation. On the contrary, it may exacerbate such problems" (p71). But the EU is reluctant to pursue free trade in agriculture, which could make a large difference to the economic wellbeing of the Mediterranean countries and might reduce some of the migratory pressures that concern the EU so much.

49. Unfortunately for the Mediterranean partners, who specialise in the production of fruit and vegetables[24], the EU does not appear to be too interested in liberalising trade in agriculture. According to Mr George Joffé of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, the Mediterranean states "ask the question … why is it that the area of comparative advantage is excluded, namely agriculture. Thus one part of the process of reinvigoration is to readdress whether or not the European Union can now allow, in the context of the Common Agricultural Policy, a change in the status of agriculture as an excluded element." (Q67) Thus the CMS may be of limited value until progress is made on allowing the Mediterranean states access to the European market in agricultural products, particularly as the trade in agricultural goods is of greater importance to the Mediterranean partners than to the EU: as pointed out by Mr Joffé, "Europe/south Mediterranean trade has never been more than two or three per cent of total European trade, whereas for the countries of the south Mediterranean the reverse is the case—70 per cent to 80 per cent of all their trade is with Europe." (Q60)

THE ENVIRONMENT

50. Only one sentence of the entire CMS is devoted to the environment. It reads "The EU will ensure that account is taken of the need to promote better integration of environmental concerns with a view to the sustainability of economic development."[25] This seems strange. The Mediterranean Sea is in places badly polluted and the area in general is increasingly prone to environmental problems, including desertification. The environment is an issue that by its nature calls for international co-operation: as put by Dr Jones Parry, "the environment is a growth area where clearly we are going to have to concentrate rather more and do better … co-operating in the European Union and with other countries is indispensable for the environment." (Q35) As put by the Spanish Ambassador,

    "If there is an area where whatever problem happens it will affect us all, it is the environment. The situation of the environment in the Mediterranean is not good. In North Africa, it is certainly bad. There, the desert is advancing. It would be naïve to think that, if we dealt very well with our resources and we had sustainable growth and were very careful with our own environment, we would be safe from our problems. We would not." (Q190)


8   Source: European Commission, quoted in Financial Times, 15th November 2000. Back

9   Evidence from Moroccan Ambassador, Mr Mohammed Belmahi (Q81). Back

10   Ibid. Back

11   Source: World Bank: World Development Indicators 2000 (Washington, 2000). Back

12   Ibid. Back

13   However, a recent communication from the Commission on a Community Immigration Policy recommends opening up channels for legal migration of labour migrants to the EU. The Communication is the subject of an inquiry by Sub-Committee F. Back

14   See, for example, evidence from the French Ambassador, M. Daniel Bernard (QQ204-206). Back

15   Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament to prepare the fourth meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers entitled "Reinvigorating the Barcelona Process", 14th September 2000. Back

16   This paper is printed as Appendix 5. Back

17   See Appendix 5, paragraph 10. Back

18   See Appendix 5, paragraph 16. Back

19   See 6th Report from the European Union Committee, session 2000-2001, Correspondence with Ministers, HL paper 15. Back

20   Source: European Commission: Annual Report of the MEDA programme 1999, 20th December 2000. Back

21   Includes 63 million euro committed between 1997 and 1999 for technical assistance provided by MEDA teams. Back

22   Includes around 150 million euro in payments on horizontal co-operation commitments made before 1996. Back

23   See evidence from David Drury for more detailed analysis (pp73-78). Back

24   Primarily olive oil, tomatoes, citrus fruits, potatoes and cut flowers. Back

25   CMS, paragraph 20. Back


 
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