|Vol 7, No.4, 25.1.01, p7
MEPS will launch a scathing attack on Union efforts to promote peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean region, saying they are ineptly run and largely ineffective.
In a report due to be adopted next week, Euro-MPs say the 'Barcelona process', designed to aid the EU's southern neighbours, is being crippled by the apathy of member states and an under-staffed funding programme.
"The Euro-Mediterranean partnership suffers both from a lack of political will on the part of the EU and from the weakness of a centralised institutional system overburdened by an excessive workload," says French socialist MEP Sami Naïr. "To remedy this state of affairs the partnership institutions must be thoroughly reviewed and highly specific reforms must be envisaged."
The Barcelona process was set up in 1995 to help create stability, promote free trade and improve mutual understanding in the region. MEPs say only one of these objectives, the establishment of a free trade area, has got off the ground.
They blame these failings on member states which are not doing enough to promote cooperation and a European Commission that is not properly allocating money for the region.
Part of the problem, say MEPs, is that association agreements between the EU and other Mediterranean countries must be ratified by each member state.
"This results in inequalities and a slow procedural pace which are almost an insult to the South," Naïr says. "The grand vision of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership ... has now given way to a negotiating process which lacks any genuine strategic perspective."
But member states are also criticised for acting purely out of greed. Naïr argues that the only meaningful product of Barcelona so far has been the loosening of trade barriers - a change which has been lucrative for European business.
"The Union's financial contribution to the Mediterranean countries represents less than one-thirtieth of the advantages which Europe derives from the free-trade area," he said.
The report lambasts the Commission for its running of the MEDA programme, which provides the financial back-up to the Barcelona ideals.
Euro MPs say the EU executive has for too long blamed the southern nations for the programme's failings. "Although certain partner countries have had difficulty in absorbing the promised aid on account of inadequate administrative or logistical infrastructures, it is nonetheless true that the Commission must accept most of the responsibility," Naïr writes.
MEPs are to launch a scathing attack on Union efforts to promote peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean region, saying they are ineptly run and largely ineffective.
|Countries / Regions