Croatia’s membership promoted

The gov­ern­ment of Mal­ta has been a con­sis­tent pro­po­nent of Croatia’s mem­ber­ship appli­ca­tion. The for­eign min­istries of both Croa­t­ia and Mal­ta have inter­act­ed reg­u­lar­ly in an effort to pro­mote Croatia’s mem­ber­ship bid. Thus, Mal­ta believes Croa­t­ia will become a mem­ber of the EU in the next round of enlarge­ment. Such a devel­op­ment will have a pos­i­tive impact on strength­en­ing sta­bil­i­ty across the Balka­ns and fur­ther enhance the Mediter­ranean dimen­sion of the Euro­pean Union.

Mal­ta is also sup­port­ive of the EU appli­ca­tions of Mon­tene­gro and Ice­land.11Min­istry of For­eign Affairs, 7 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.foreign.gov.mt/default.aspx?MDIS=21&NWID=974 (last access: 12 July 2010). Malta’s Min­istry of For­eign Affairs has also been in close con­tact with both coun­tries and offered sup­port to fur­ther their EU acces­sion negotiations.

Dis­cus­sion regard­ing EU mem­ber­ship appli­ca­tions is pri­mar­i­ly car­ried out at a gov­ern­men­tal lev­el with the Office of the Prime Min­is­ter and the Min­istry of For­eign Affairs pub­licly com­ment­ing on this issue. There is a con­sen­sus across the polit­i­cal spec­trum in Mal­ta that only those states that ful­ly meet the Copen­hagen Cri­te­ria should be allowed to join the Euro­pean Union. No con­sid­er­a­tion should be giv­en enter­tain­ing tran­si­tion­al phas­es of enlarge­ment when it comes to coun­tries that have yet to car­ry out the nec­es­sary polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic reforms.

At a civ­il soci­ety lev­el, the mem­ber­ship of Turkey is also often dis­cussed. A sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of peo­ple are uncer­tain about the eli­gi­bil­i­ty of Turkey to con­duct fur­ther EU acces­sion nego­ti­a­tions due to geo­graph­ic and polit­i­cal issues. Issues of con­cern include Turkey’s Mid­dle East geo­graph­ic dimen­sion, Turkey’s human rights’ track record and Turkey’s stance towards the Cypri­ot issue.

Locat­ed in the cen­tre of the Mediter­ranean, Malta’s main for­eign pol­i­cy focus has been on sup­port­ing the evo­lu­tion of the Union for the Mediter­ranean (UfM) as a com­ple­men­tary mech­a­nism to the Euro-Mediter­ranean Part­ner­ship (EMP) that was launched in Novem­ber 1995.

It is fun­da­men­tal­ly clear that the Euro-Med Part­ner­ship cou­pled with the Union for the Mediter­ranean offer a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to strength­en polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic and cul­tur­al ties across the Euro-Mediter­ranean area. But such progress will only be reg­is­tered if all the Euro-Med coun­tries direct their actions at the caus­es rather than the symp­toms of con­tem­po­rary dis­par­i­ties and secu­ri­ty risks. This is not to say that human­i­tar­i­an and devel­op­ment assis­tance is not essen­tial, but this should not become a sub­sti­tute for efforts that are geared towards increas­ing high­er lev­els of coop­er­a­tion between the coun­tries of the Mediterranean.

The Union for the Mediter­ranean offers the blue­print to address the phys­i­cal archi­tec­tur­al deficit that has pre­vent­ed the Mediter­ranean area from becom­ing a coher­ent func­tion­al eco­nom­ic region­al space. The spe­cif­ic project areas that have been high­light­ed, includ­ing those con­cern­ing renew­able ener­gy, de-pol­lu­tion of the sea, bet­ter trans­port con­nec­tions and a civ­il pro­tec­tion net­work, focus on improv­ing the phys­i­cal dimen­sion of the region­al frame­work that to date has been lacking.

The launch­ing of an enhanced polit­i­cal dia­logue through the Union for the Mediter­ranean pro­vides the EU with an excel­lent oppor­tu­ni­ty to intro­duce two basic fea­tures that have been absent from the EMP: respon­si­bil­i­ty and account­abil­i­ty. Both will upgrade the Mediter­ranean states par­tic­i­pa­tion in the UfM. Respon­si­bil­i­ty and account­abil­i­ty will pro­vide the Mediter­ranean with a sense of own­er­ship of a process that has to date been large­ly EU dri­ven. It will also assist in elim­i­nat­ing the “us and them” per­cep­tion that the Mediter­ranean coun­tries have had of the EMP.

The Union for the Mediter­ranean must thus be seen as a lit­mus test of the Euro­pean Union’s objec­tive of assist­ing the improve­ment of liveli­hoods in states that bor­der its own mem­ber states. More­over, the UfM track record will also have a major bear­ing on the extent to which the Euro­pean Union is able to pos­i­tive­ly influ­ence devel­op­ment in Africa and the Mid­dle East.

Par­al­lel to the UfM eco­nom­ic tar­gets, it is essen­tial to re-vis­it the head­line goal of the Barcelona Process to estab­lish a com­mon secu­ri­ty agen­da and mech­a­nism for the Mediter­ranean. More than a decade has passed since the Guide­lines for a Secu­ri­ty Char­ter were pub­lished at the Euro-Med for­eign min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ing in Stuttgart in April 1999.

Eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment as envis­aged by the Union for the Mediter­ranean will only take place if investors believe they are com­mit­ting them­selves to a strate­gic envi­ron­ment where the rule of law and secu­ri­ty are guar­an­teed. The re-launch­ing of a polit­i­cal dia­logue that seeks to build a com­mon secu­ri­ty plat­form to address the long list of secu­ri­ty risks and threats, includ­ing ter­ror­ism, the pro­lif­er­a­tion of weapons of mass destruc­tion, drug traf­fick­ing, organ­ised crime, and envi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion, will cre­ate a more con­ducive strate­gic con­text with­in which UfM goals can be pur­sued and achieved.

If the EU wants to increase secu­ri­ty in the Mediter­ranean at a human lev­el, it needs to decide whether it is going to export more jobs to its south­ern neigh­bours or whether it is pre­pared to absorb some of the excess employ­ment capac­i­ty that is due to grow fur­ther in the next decade. Cur­rent pro­jec­tions esti­mate that the pop­u­la­tion of North Africa and the Mid­dle East is due to grow from 200 mil­lion to 300 mil­lion by 2020.

Unless the coun­tries along the south­ern shores of the Mediter­ranean are able to sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase their eco­nom­ic growth to above six per­cent per annum, unem­ploy­ment fig­ures in this part of the world are sched­uled to increase rapid­ly in the next ten years. This demo­graph­ic time bomb is, there­fore, cer­tain to be a source of insta­bil­i­ty in the Euro-Mediter­ranean area if not tack­led in a con­cert­ed man­ner in the near future.

The Union for the Mediter­ranean there­fore pro­vides a very impor­tant strate­gic re-assess­ment of the EU’s pol­i­cy towards its south­ern neigh­bour­hood. When all the hoopla sur­round­ing the mul­ti­lat­er­al ini­tia­tive launched by France is done away with, the UfM boils down to being a vehi­cle that seeks to cor­rect the numer­ous deficits that the Euro-Med Part­ner­ship has suf­fered since its incep­tion. These include address­ing the issue of co-own­er­ship, enhanc­ing vis­i­bil­i­ty of the process and focus­ing on deliv­er­ing more tan­gi­ble results in the form of numer­ous region­al projects that are cru­cial to con­nect­ing the Mediter­ranean to the larg­er inter­na­tion­al system.

The Union for the Mediter­ranean intro­duces a very impor­tant per­spec­tive that to date has been absent when it comes to pro­mot­ing region­al inte­gra­tion in the Mediter­ranean. The UfM project will enhance Euro-Mediter­ranean inter­de­pen­dence, a pre­req­ui­site to being able to encour­age con­fi­dence and even­tu­al trust between states in the area. The ris­ing polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic inter­ests and stakes will serve as an insur­ance pol­i­cy against self-cen­tred and myopic pol­i­cy-mak­ing that for too long has hin­dered trans-Mediter­ranean integration.

The East­ern Part­ner­ship is also regard­ed pos­i­tive­ly as a vehi­cle that can enhance sta­bil­i­ty along Europe’s east­ern bor­ders. This dimen­sion of the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy is, how­ev­er, much less dis­cussed when com­pared to its south­ern dimen­sion, giv­en the dom­i­nance of Mediter­ranean secu­ri­ty issues on the agen­da in Malta.

    Footnotes

  • 1Min­istry of For­eign Affairs, 7 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.foreign.gov.mt/default.aspx?MDIS=21&NWID=974 (last access: 12 July 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.