Twenty-seven countries signed up to boost ties
between the EU and Mediterranean states [EPA]

The Barcelona Euro-Mediterranean (EuroMed) Conference was first held in November 1995, bringing together the then 15 European Union (EU) member countries with 12 Mediterranean countries.

The conference examined trade, security, democracy and human rights in the Mediterranean and how Europe could forge greater links to Mediterranean conference attendees.

The attending countries eventually agreed on a process for mutual co-operation, focusing on three specific chapters.

A political and security chapter aims at a "common area of peace and stability through the reinforcement of political and security dialogue".

"The construction of a zone of shared prosperity through an economic and financial partnership and the gradual establishment of a free-trade area" is the focus of an economic and financial chapter.

Finally, a "rapprochement between peoples through a social, cultural and human partnership aimed at encouraging understanding between cultures and exchanges between civil societies" is the aim of a social, cultural and human chapter.

Free-trade process

While the 1995 conference was attended by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Libya stayed away because Muammar Gaddafi, the country's president, was suspicious of Europe's motives for engaging with Mediterranean countries.

Members of EuroMed


27 countries agreed to a process on improving European-Mediterranean ties in 1995

15 EU member countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom, Sweden
 
12 governments from the Mediterranean region: Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, 
Palestinian Authority

Libya was granted observer status to the forum in 1999 and, over time, has increasingly engaged with member countries that are full participants.

A set of goals for forming a free trade area in the Mediterranean by 2010 was developed in successive annual meetings, known as the Barcelona Process.

A Euro-Mediterranean free trade area (known as EU-MEFTA) is based in part on the principles of the Barcelona Process.

The Agadir Agreement, which was signed in Rabat, Morocco, in February 2004 aims to establish a free trade area between Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.

Agadir is held to be the first step towards a wider free trade area between Europe and the Mediterranean, but its terms have yet to be fully implemented.

The different chapters of the Barcelona Process are held to have had varying levels of success.

While the economic and cultural chapters have enjoyed some success, the political and security chapter has been ineffective, largely due to continuing differences between Israel and the Palestinians.

France's reluctance to Turkey joining the European Union, which Ankara is in the process of fulfilling, also has ramifications for the full implementation of the Barcelona Process.

France is believed to be fine-tuning a proposal for the formation of a Mediterranean Union which would operate outside the EU.

Source: Al Jazeera