The Mediterranean Corporation
The Europe Mediterranean region is one of the expanding market opportunities of the world including the European Union. This European-Mediterranean market could become larger than the China Market by 2012. This is a very lucrative opportunity that businesses and investors have to recon.
In 1995, the European and Mediterranean Member governments signed a Barcelona declaration aimed at establishing a zone of peace and economic stability and prosperity.
The European-Mediterranean Partnership creation following the Barcelona European-Mediterranean Conference was prearranged by the European Union to strengthen its relations with other countries outside the region. This partnership formed the foundation of what came to be known as the Union of Mediterranean or the Mediterranean Corporation.
The MEDA program is the main financial partner of European-Mediterranean partnership launched by the 1995 Mediterranean conference of Barcelona, Spain. The 2004 expandtion of The European Union brought in two more new Mediterranean countries i.e. Malta and Cyprus adding up to a total of 10 members.
Formation of the European-Mediterranean Partnership.
The European-Mediterranean Membership comprises 39 members; 27 E.U member states, 3 candidate states and 9 Mediterranean Partners. The Barcelona process was a unique and ambitious initiative which laid down the foundation of a new regional relationship and represented a turning point for the European-Mediterranean relationships. The partnership recognized three main points in its agenda (Gellespie 1997);
1. The characterization of a common region of peace and stability through the strengthening of political plus security policies.
2. The establishment of a zone of collective prosperity through an economical and financial joint venture, plus founding of a free trade zone.
3. Rapprochement of the community through a socio-economic, cultural and human joint venture intended to encourage acceptation of differences between cultures and also between civil societies.
Based on the agenda of the partnership, the European-Mediterranean Partnership was supposed to ensure security and stability in the Mediterranean region, agree on shared values and initializing a long-term process for corporation in the region, promoting democracy, good governance and human rights; achieving mutual satisfaction in trading terms among members, and establishing a complementary policy towards the United State of America’s presence in the region. Clearly, it can be seen that this partnership was working to exploit three main aspects of development, politics, economy and culture (Knio 2007).
Some analyst have termed the process as ineffective, the blockade of Middle East Process is having an impact on the Barcelona process and its hindering progress especially on the second issue of politics. The economy issue can be considered a success and there has been project for the exchange of cultural aspects between peoples of the region.
The other criticism is based on the major role the European Union is playing. Normally it has been seen as if the E.U is the one in charge, assessing the state of affairs which leads to the impression that the North is in a way dictating the South on what to do. The question of enhanced co-operation and co-management of the whole process has repeatedly been addressed over the past years without clear definition. This is a long-term project and much more complex than it seems therefore may require more time. It may take years before a solution is reached. (Solingen 2003 & Knio 2007)
In 2005 a Euro-Mediterranean Investment Summit was Held in Marseille, France. This summit addressed the expanding opportunity in the European market. This summit was supported by both public and private sectors, and brought together global politicians, investors and executives who were keen on developing economic links with the prosperous North and South Shores.( Euro-Mediterranean Investment Summit 2005)
Last year the French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed the formation of Union for the Mediterranean which would consist majorly the Mediterranean states and presumably operate outside the auspices of the European Union. He also suggested that would an alternative for Turkish membership in E.U.
MEDA Program since 1995 to date
The MEDA program is considered the most important financial instrument to European-Mediterranean partnership since 1995 to date. MEDA has approved over five thousand Euros as grant in co-operation programs, projects and other supporting activities. Apart from MEDA the other funding partner is European Investment Bank. The European-Mediterranean Committee is made up of representatives from European Union and Mediterranean partners (European Commission 2005)
The official basis of MEDA program operation is the 1996 MEDA regulation amended in November 2000 by MEDA regulation. The main areas of intercession and objectives are directly obtained from the 1995 Barcelona declaration.
Most of the assistance under MEDA program is extended through bilateral co-operation which has two main priorities;
1. Support for economic changeover in view of creating free trade zone. This encourages competitiveness and thus achieving greater economic growth.
2. Growth of the social economic balance. This helps improve the short-term cost of economic transition.
All the Mediterranean partners are beneficiaries of the bilateral MEDA co-operation except Israel and Turkey. Israel is not a beneficiary due to its high level of economic development while Turkey receives bilateral funding from E.U as a candidate of accession
MEDA was improved from MEDA I to MEDA II in 2000, this was a direct consequence of the implementation of structural reforms undertaken by the new commission. The reforms allowed for rapid implementation of European-Mediterranean Corporation. (European Commission 2005).
European Neighborhood policy (ENP) is aimed to share the benefits of the enlarged E.U and its neighbours in strengthening the stability and socio-economic well being of concerned parties. This policy helps to prevent the possibilities of emergence of cracks in the larger E.U community and offers its neighbours an opportunity to participate in E.U’s activities where there is security, political and cultural collaboration. (European Commission 2005).
Mediterranean Politics of European Union
The E.U is considered a unique entity possessing elements of different governments, supranationalism and multi-party parliamentary democracy systems. According to Maastricht treaty of 1991, the E.U’s political scene is divided into three strong branches; the European Community – which is the supranatural element and the two intergovernmental elements i.e. Common Foreign Policy, Security policy, Police and Judicial assistance in Criminal matters. The later two also have supernatural component but as strong as in Community. E.U has four primary Institutions, the European Commission, the European Council, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. The first two branches exercise executive powers controlling agencies, proposing and drafting legislation and implementing the law. European council has no executive power. The Union is base upon its treaties which form constitutional law; institutions etc. laws made by the union succeed those of individual governments. Elections are held in Union’s member-states according to their own set of laws. (Gellepsie 1997, Knio 2007 and Harrmann P & Arno T. (2004))
Turkey and the Mediterranean Cooperation
The relationship of E.U and Turkey is an issue of immense importance for the union. The possible accession into the Union will not only influence the political set up in the union and Europe as a whole but also the living conditions of the many E.U citizens. Its for this reason Turkey was asked by conference of European Churches to state its position on the possibility of changing its policies in order to join the Union. Turkey has been asked to compromise a lot in its foreign policies and its relationship with the neighbours.
The Euro-Mediterranean partnership has so far managed to meet its objectives since its formation in 1995. These achievements include; political and security stability in the region, economic and financial partnership, establishment of a free trade region and support of economic transition.
European Commission (2005). Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and MEDA Regional activities. Euromed Informational notes.
European-Mediterranean Investment Summit (2005): 10th Anniversary of Barcelona Process Marseille, France. pp13-14
Gellespie R. (1997). The European-Mediterranean Partnership: political and Economic Perspectives. Frank Cass
Harrmann P & Arno T. (2004) Dar al Islam. The Mediterranean, the World system and the Wider Europe: The Cultural Enlargement of E.U and Europe’s Identity. vol.1
Knio, K.M. (2007) Macroeconomic Management and European-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP): Is it time for Discretionary fiscal and monetary policies? ,Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International studies Association 48th Convention, Hilton Chicago, Chicago.
Solingen, E. (2003). The Triple Logic of the European-Mediterranean Oartnership: Hindsights and Foresights, vol 40, No.2 pp179-194