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The Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean – Impact for Euro-Mediterranean and EU-Israeli Relations Paper presented at the IEPN Circle Europe Meeting.

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Presentation on theme: "The Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean – Impact for Euro-Mediterranean and EU-Israeli Relations Paper presented at the IEPN Circle Europe Meeting."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean – Impact for Euro-Mediterranean and EU-Israeli Relations Paper presented at the IEPN Circle Europe Meeting Tel Aviv 23 September 2008 Prof. Dr. Stephan Stetter Universität der Bundeswehr Munich

2 Structure Present short summary of the genesis of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Present the main outcomes of the Paris Summit of 13 July 2008 Analyse the impact of the UfM on Euro- Mediterranean Relations Analyse the impact of the UfM for EU-Israeli Relations Contextualise this analysis in a proper assessment of key dynamics of EU foreign politics Provide a summary and some policy recommendations

3 From Paris to Barcelona: The Genesis of the UfM On 13 July 2008 the UfM was formally established at the Paris Summit Attended by almost all heads of state or government from the Euro-Mediterranean area plus a number of heads of international organisations Adopted a declaration setting up an institutional structure of the UfM, setting out its philosophy and proposing concrete policy projects (a Union of projects) Final agreement on open issues to be reached until November 2008 (foreign ministers meeting)

4 From Paris to Barcelona Paris summit was outcome of more than a year of intense deliberations at EU level. This story has been intensively told elsewhere. Main contours will suffice here:  French presidential election campaign of 2007, key foreign policy proposal of candidate Sarkozy, addressing concerns over migration and integration from North Africa and reinvigorating France‘s diplomatic standing in the region. Entire Mediterranean area, but particular focus on Maghreb  After election victory Sarkozy set out his plans for what he referred to as the „Mediterranean Union“ between those states directly adjacent to the sea  Process of EU internal deliberations and concerns that this is not Union à la française. See also the Spanish initiative of a Euro- Mediterranean Union of 2007, so UfM was not the only show in town

5 From Paris to Barcelona  Initial input came particularly from Spain and Italy. Prior to the Appel de Rome both governments made clear that they have high stakes in such a project  In particular Germany and the European Commission also made clear that the project will only be possible if it formally runs as an EU-project  Mixed reception in the South. It was not formally rejected (after all Southern governments always were sceptical of the EMP and its reformist undertones). However, some Southern states feared that this might undermine the promise of a future special status or privileged partnership with the EU (Morocco, Israel have been both promised a status avancée), most governments were not particularly enthusiastic about yet another multilateral project but did not object to a potential re-governmentalisation of relations either

6 From Paris to Barcelona Also in academia and media – as within Southern Mediterranean states - the initiative often encountered a cool reception. Most commentators agreed on the multiple shortcomings of the Barcelona Process (EMP) - but questioned the appropriateness of what seemed as the lonesome project of an all too energetic new President Over the course of 2007/08 there was an increasing Schadenfreude in many quarters that Sarkozy‘s activism has met resistance on various fronts and his by now down-graded project did allegedly not fly. Indeed, the idea of a French-led, Mediterranean-only Union of littoral states was sacked. What was designed instead was a Europeanised „Union for the Mediterranean“ which pays more than a lip service to the Barcelona Process. As Tobias Schumacher has argued: „Barcelona is dead, long live Barcelona“.

7 The Europeanisation of foreign policies Put in a conceptual bracket on the Europeanisation of foreign policies here Yet, I argue that this widespread narrative of Schadenfreude is of limited use only and does not achieve to fully understand what the UfM in its Europeanised format is about. Specifically, this narrative rests on a problematic reading of the main dynamics driving EU foreign politics and is still obsessively concerned with the somewhat outdated complaint that the EU has too many players, has no single telephone number to call and that its policies suffer from too little impact and, overall, a notorious capability-expectation gap resulting from endless EU-internal deliberations. This narrative, hence, usually culminates in complaints that EU politics are way too complicated, since they need to take regard of 27 different „national perspectives“

8 The Europeanisation of foreign policies Yet, this perspective tends to ignore that increasingly national perspectives cannot reasonable be separated from European policies. The genesis of the UfM reveals the shortcomings when analysing EU policies through the prism of alleged „national perspectives“ as if these could reasonably be separated from what happens at the EU-level What thus appears to some as a process of procrastinating Sarkozy‘s proposal, is at closer inspection a normal process of EU foreign policy making with no a priori fixed „national“ positions Also empirically such a narrative does not really address several crucial questions, e.g. why did France jump on the EU-train and not, say, engage on a bilateral level in a strong relationship with, say, Algeria (as once proposed by Sarkozy during a visit to Algiers) or why did it not result in a more limited sub-regional project, such as the 5+5 security partnership in the Western Mediterranean?

9 The Europeanisation of foreign policies The reason is that since the Maastricht Treaty of 1993 national foreign policies in the EU can no longer be conceived of outside of an EU context. Such centripetal dynamics have also operated in the UfM-saga and there was never a serious objection by France to such a Europeanisation of the Mediterranean Union project As soon as the EU track was accepted as the only game in town (arguably, at the latest, with the Appel de Rome of December 2007), the centralising logic of the EU foreign affairs system came into play Seeing it from this perspective, the key to understanding the UfM is not comparing the initial proposal of Sarkozy with the final outcome but rather to address the way in which the French government was able to act as an agenda-setter at the EU-level. Proposals which are tabled for the first time hardly ever are the final outcome What is thus required in order to make sense of the UfM is first of all a proper understanding of the EU as a political entity which has since the Maastricht Treaty developed its own internal and external sovereignty – this, however, is usually not the storyline told in mass media.

10 The Europeanisation of foreign policies However, the genesis of the UfM clearly signals that adopting the prism of allegedly autonomous national perspectives on EU foreign policy issues increasingly clashes with the Realpolitik of a heavily integrated and centralised EU foreign affairs system. We are still too much used to see EU foreign policies with the methodology of the 1960s (thus suspecting that autonomous national perspectives lurk around the corner) rather than seeing such internal deliberations as the usual negotiation process within a dense institutional setting within which „national“ and „European“ perspectives increasingly merge and in which the role of individual governments (and other executive actors, such as the Commission and the High Representative) rather is to act as agenda-setters Moreover, this Europeanised perspective is not merely a matter of foreign policies but concerns the increasing sovereignty the EU has as a political system in its own right. Take, for example, the issue of free movement (Schengen space) or the Euro as the single currency of the EU. It is thus not merely institutional jealousy of other actors that has driven the Sarkozy‘s proposal into the realm of Brussels politics, but the very functional interdependencies which render the EU a polity in its own right

11 The Europeanisation of foreign policies Due to different factors such as immigration, free movement, education, trade etc. many „Northern“ states are, to varying degrees, directly affected by what happens in the Mediterranean basin. As Volker Perthes once argued, as a result of European integration, Germany has become „a Mediterranean state“. The same can be said about Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and other countries which share no immediate physical border with the Mediterranean Sea Finally, and in more analytical terms, the EU foreign affairs system cannot thus be adequately understood by focusing on the 27 member states and their interests as is often insinuated when talking about „French“, „German“ or „Spanish“ perspectives as if these perspectives would operate autonomously from each other. It is rather the focus on the political deliberations within the EU executive triangle of Council (Presidency and member states), Council Secretariat (High Representative) and Commission which together allows best addressing of how policy initiatives such as the Mediterranean Union develop at the EU-level – and that agenda-setters (as in all political processes) do not expect a perfect match between their initial proposals and the actual outcome

12 Barcelona is dead, long live Barcelona: The Paris Summit revisited If told like that the run-up to the Paris Summit does not appear as a defeat of Sarkozy but rather as a timely agenda setting which made use of a specific window of opportunity  It jumped on the widespread assessment of manifold shortcomings of the EMP, as became visible at the 10 year summit of the Barcelona Conference in 2005 (see also the Spanish proposals of 2007)  And made use of the complimentarity on a multilateral level for which the much more bilaterally oriented ENP literally called for Run-up to Paris Summit: After the Appel de Rome and French-German summits in early 2008, the Brussels European Council of March 2008 delegated to the European Commission the task of setting up the contours of what the Commission then labelled as the „Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean“. And indeed, nothing else but this delegation to the Commission (i.e. a supranational actor) was conceivable, given the Commission‘s crucial governance role both in the EMP

13 Barcelona is dead, long live Barcelona: The Paris Summit revisited The Commission then issued a Communication on the UfM in May 2008  Main points: critical assessment of the Barcelona Process, „now is the time to inject further momentum into the Barcelona Process“ – picking up many of the ideas which were ventilated before, such as upgrading of relations (summits), credible ownership (Presidency, Secretariat, Joint Committee), focus on concrete projects The Paris summit of 13 July then was the first ever meeting in history of all heads of state and government of those states/political entities adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea including the Western Balkans (plus Mauritania, Jordan) However, focusing on the UfM from the perspective of a Braudelian longue durée shows that the UfM is, neither in substance nor in institutional terms, a completely new project but rather follows the roughly 10-years cycle of branding and rebranding (and upgrading, intensifying) EC/EU policy initiatives towards the Mediterranean region  Global Mediterranean Policy (life cycle )  Redirected Mediterranean Policy (life cycle )  Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (life cycle )  Union for the Mediterranean A side note here: The UfM is somewhat of a curiosity, since it is in a sense reminiscent of an academic article since it is one of the few institutional settings in global politics which carries a title (Barcelona Process) and a subtitle (UfM)

14 Barcelona is dead, long live Barcelona: The Paris Summit revisited Heads of state and government met in Paris. And, in contrast to the 10-years anniversary meeting of Barcelona in 2005 – for which heads of state and government were also invited - almost all attended this time. Moreover this pattern now becomes institutionalised and meeting of heads of state and government are to held biannually – in the EMP period the highest level were the regular meetings of foreign ministers Thus, the UfM attempts to increase political salience and raise the level of commitment Yet, some suspicion certainly is in order of why actually all heads of state and government attended. Given the notorious history of autocratic governance in the Southern Mediterranean this participation by governments might indeed confirm the concern opposition movements, NGOs etc held with regard to a potential governmental bias of the UfM Yet, the declaration clearly emphasises that the current structures of the EMP are to be preserved (e.g. role of the European Commission, focus on reform, role of non- governmental actors) Also in wording the UfM declaration is similar to EMP documents. Opens with call for democracy, region-building, and then addresses the four chapters of the Barcelona acquis (political, economic, cultural & social/migration)

15 Barcelona is dead, long live Barcelona: The Paris Summit revisited What are the difference to the EMP: co-ownership strengthened. There will be a permanent co-presidency from the South, this will be decided by consensus amongst the non-EU partners participants (most likely initially an Arab country. For political reasons, in descending order, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan appear as possible candidates) There is a clear reference to the Lisbon Treaty in order to clarify the representation of the EU in the UfM. Currently 3 heads represent the EU (President of the Council, President of the Commission, High Representative), in the future 2 representatives will be present at summit level (President of the Council and Commission, i.e. a further Europeanisation) and 1 representative at ministers level, i.e. the EU Foreign Secretary only UfM will receive a Secretariat with its own legal personality – a Joint Permanent Committee to be placed in Brussels, possibly being formed out of the Euromed- Committee Precise mandate and shape of these institutions and the issue of Presidency to be settled at November 2008 meeting of UfM-foreign ministers Other actors are included as observers, notably GCC (the Emir of Qatar played a crucial rule in the Lebanon agreement), the Arab League but also the President of the EP/EMPA and the Lindh-foundation

16 Barcelona is dead, long live Barcelona: The Paris Summit revisited Thus, when compared with the EMP, the UfM is stronger on co-ownership at least from an institutional perspective, but arguably less on the level of substance. Projects are mainly addressing EU concerns. And herein lies the main problem: will the projects really fly even when the institutional structure stands? A lot of emphasis has been put on classical EMP goals, including what is called a „deep Free trade zone“, but a greater emphasis has been laid on the role of private business, the facilitation of movement of persons, but also environmental issues Less on other issues such as agriculture, poverty or political freedom – although the declarations mentions social cohesion as a central objective The agenda mentions 6 concrete projects of cooperation (4 of them were already suggested in the Commission Communication of May 2008). What is noteworthy is that most of these projects already appeared in the five year work programme for the EMP from albeit one has to acknowledge that what was an endless list of rather general projects then, now is a much more focused approach – yet, the question remains why these six and not other projects were prioritised A further problem of the UfM certainly is that the role of actors beyond national governments needs to be much better defined. The problem of governmentalisation is particular problematic due to the autocratic character of many partner countries Moreover, there is also a tension between the initial interest in „effectiveness“ and the aimed for visibility of projects. Many argue that there is a negative trade-off between visibility and effectiveness, in particular if private business is involved.

17 What does it mean for Euro- Mediterranean relations The Commission was right when arguing that the time has been ripe for a new approach and in that sense the French Presidency used a window of opportunity to set the agenda anew It was clear that the increasing mismatch between a dead-end EMP and a more dynamic ENP with its Action plans and concrete day-to-day operations (with the aim of securing a stake in the internal marked) had to be balanced from two perspectives:  Firstly from the Council Perspective: There has been a mismatch insofar as many member states and the Council as such wish to have a counterweight to the Commission‘s central role in both the EMP and the ENP setting. Indeed, the UfM appears to be more Council oriented  Secondly, by strengthening the multilateral and region-building dimension of Euro- Mediterranean policies which has been unduly downsized due to the strong bilateral focus of the ENP As a side note we can address here the role of region-building. This should be less judged by expecting concrete results. The yardstick of effectiveness is not so much concrete and immediate results, but putting and permanently keeping this issue on the agenda (what we could call following Habermas communicative action)

18 What does it mean for Euro- Mediterranean relations The UfM certainly addresses some other lessons learned from EMP experience: the UfM seems to be less hampered by the Israel-Palestine conflict Thus, it includes explicit reference to the notion of variable geometry, which can also be read as an indication that the bulk of activities might rather relate to a Euro-Maghreb setting Focus on institutionalised co-ownership and a few concrete multilateral projects certainly is useful (although the financing and prioritisation is not yet clear). Tension between business orientation and virility certainly is a problem

19 Whither EU-Israel relations? UfM will most likely be less relevant for Israel and the Mashreq at large when compared with the Maghreb. Yet, a closer look at the six priority projects indicates that there is a potential role for Israel  De-pollution of the Mediterranean Sea: * - at least some relevance here, but arguably would require a political rapprochement with Palestine (Gaza) and Lebanon  Maritime highways, ports* - some relevance, Ashdod and Haifa. But the UfM seems to pay a greater focus on developing trans-Maghreb infrastructure  Civil protection disasters ** - this could have a higher significance, given that Israeli rescue squads have been active in civil protection disasters abroad in the past, e.g. rescue squads in Turkey  Alternative energy ** - this could also have a high significance given Israel‘s well developed solar industry  Euro-Mediterranean Higher Education Area** - also here a high significance can be expected due to the excellent reputation of Israeli academia and its long-standing participation in the EU Framework Programmes  Business development – *; arguably less relevant, since business development relates more to less developed countries. However, drawing from the QIZ experience Israel might play a role here, but this again would require a reconciliation in the Middle East

20 Whither EU-Israeli relations? Symbolic and diplomatic relevance due to summits of heads of state and government (e.g. Turkish, Qatari or other mediation, will Israeli PMs and Syrian Presidents shake hands or not?) Israel will be part of all UfM activities („all countries party to the initiative will be invited to Summits, Ministerial and other plenary meetings“) - although it is interesting to see how that be solved legally However, since the co-presidency is decided by consensus amongst the non-EU partners it is unlikely that in the foreseeable future Israel will have a highly visible formal role in the UfM (apart from seconding personnel to the secretariat)

21 Whither EU-Israeli relations? Yet, UfM useful since the horizon of pan-Mediterranean and regional integration needs to be revitalised in Israel and the Middle East at large. Some argue that after the failure of the New Middle East and the Madrid multilateral track, the region is tired of such multilateral utopias, following Helmut Schmidt‘s word that if you have utopias you should consult a doctor Yet, and I guess I would be seconded by Helmut Schmidt for that concrete vision, for a lasting political, security-related, economic and societal development in Israel and the Middle East there is no alternative to sub-regional integration between Israel and all her neighbours UfM thus is a strong remainder that the game in town is not only the bilateral show of the ENP, the APs and securing national stakes in the internal market. Moreover, the UfM clearly signals that the EU will always try to strike a balance between bilateralism and multilateralism in its Mediterranean policies

22 Summary and recommendations The EU follows both a multilateral and bilateral approach The UfM might complement the strong bilateral focus of the ENP with a regional dimension Scepticism is warranted whether UfM will be able to fly as foreseen, yet there is improvement both on an institutional and a substantive level when compared with the EMP. What are the blank spots/problematic aspects of the UfM: governmentalisation/autocratic governance, poverty, oppression of opposition, integration of political Islam and democratic movements in Arab countries UfM has been a supreme example of the centripetal dynamics operating in EU foreign policies. Focus on allegedly autonomous „national“ perspectives or the lacking telephone number of the EU is not really helpful Equally, the focus on „concrete“ results must be supplemented by focus on how the EU possesses the power to put certain „themes“ on the agenda (reform, region-building, multilateralism) which does not necessarily mean that these themes need to implemented in order to measure success Advantage of UfM is the focus on variable geometry. However, this might also foster the western dimension of the UfM which will therefore most likely be less relevant for Israel/Mashreq But also in Eastern Mediterranean there is some relevance. Participation of Israel in several projects can be well conceived of Underlines need to complement strong bilateral EU-Israel relations with a multi-faceted regional dimension


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