What is the Barcelona process?

The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership is the main framework for political, economic, and social relations, as well as dialogue and regional co-operation, in the Mediterranean.  It is, moreover, the only forum bringing together all of the actors in the region.  This partnership, also called the Barcelona Process, includes 38 members: the 25 European Union Member States, three candidates for EU membership, and ten other countries known as Mediterranean Partners.  The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership is an open, inclusive space, which has created a climate of trust in the region.  The active participation of Israel and the Palestinian Authority attests to its integrating capacity.

The first Foreign Ministers Conference, held in Barcelona in 1995, was the starting point for this association between the European Union and countries from the Mediterranean region.  Over these past ten years, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership has achieved many of its objectives.  Politically, it has promoted dialogue and co-operation for the sake of greater stability and security in the Mediterranean region.  Economically, the European Union’s co-operative efforts have involved a budget of nearly 9.000 million euros for MEDA co-operation programmes, and a similar amount in European Investment Bank loans, for supporting the private sector and for a variety of projects, including water infrastructure in Jordan, and regional desertification control, amongst many others.

Important steps have also been taken towards meeting the goal of creating a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area (EMFTA) by 2010. The Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements between the EU and nearly all of the countries on the southern coast have made possible major advances in trade liberalisation, increasing the volume of commercial exchange in the region.

The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership has also promoted the creation of venues for deliberation, such as the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, which periodically brings together 240 legislators from both shores. The launching of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, inaugurated in 2005 in Alexandria, marked a great step forward in the development of cultural exchange in the Mediterranean through the active participation of different civil society organisations.