The Union for the Mediterranean promotes economic integration and democratic reform across 16 neighbours to the EU’s south in North Africa and the Middle East.
Formerly known as the Barcelona Process, cooperation agreements were re-launched in 2008 as the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) .
The re-launch was an opportunity to render relations both more concrete and more visible with the initiation of new regional and sub-regional projects with real relevance for those living in the region. Projects address areas such as economy, environment, energy, health, migration and culture.
Along with the 27 EU member states, 16 Southern Mediterranean, African and Middle Eastern countries are members of the UfM: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.
Currently meetings are co-presided over by one Mediterranean and one EU country. As of September 2010, the UfM also has a functional secretariat, based in Barcelona, a Secretary General and six deputy secretary generals.
Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, governance from the EU side will be rearranged once the EEAS has been established.
The UfM has a number of key initiatives on its agenda:
- the de-pollution of the Mediterranean Sea, including coastal and protected marine areas;
- the establishment of maritime and land highways that connect ports and improve rail connections so as to facilitate movement of people and goods;
- a joint civil protection programme on prevention, preparation and response to natural and man-made disasters;
- a Mediterranean solar energy plan that explores opportunities for developing alternative energy sources in the region;
- a Euro-Mediterranean University, inaugurated in Slovenia in June 2008;
- the Mediterranean Business Development Initiative, which supports small businesses operating in the region by first assessing their needs and then providing technical assistance and access to finance.
(European Union External Action)