Handover of the Northern co-presidency of the UfM to the European Union (March 1, 2012)
On March 1, France will hand over the Northern co-presidency of the Union for the Mediterranean to the European Union, as reaffirmed in the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council of February 27.
At a time when the people of the Arab world are asserting their right to dignity, freedom and democracy, the UfM, building on and as part of the continuation of the Barcelona process, launched in November 1995, should allow us to take better account of the new realities in the region and foster economic and social convergence between these two shores of our common sea, which is essential for shared stability and prosperity.
France, which has co-chaired, together with Egypt, the UfM since its creation in July 2008, lent particular support to the launch of concrete projects capable of meeting the needs of the populations of the southern shore: completion of the trans-Maghreb highway, the Mediterranean Solar Plan, Foundation of Women for the Mediterranean projects, projects to support student mobility and research, and a seawater desalination plant project in Gaza.
The transfer of the Northern co-presidency of the UfM to the European Union reflects the key role of the EU in supporting the changes under way in the southern Mediterranean countries, a role already marked by the upgrading of its European Neighborhood Policy. The EU will thus strengthen its bilateral actions in support of the transitions, through its regional action within the framework of the UfM, a unique forum for Euro-Mediterranean cooperation based on the principles of equality and shared ownership.
This strengthening of the EU’s role in the governance of the UfM should also prompt the EU, through its European Neighborhood Policy, to lend increased support to the UfM’s concrete projects.