07/11/2008

Euro-Arab versus Euromed

This week, Europe was looking South because of two events: the Arab week in the European Parliament, and the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Union for the Mediterraneanon November 3 and 4 in Marseille.

First, the European Parliament lived its « Arab week » as part of the year for Intercultural Dialogue. Over the meetings, ideas emerged: that of a strong demand for the resumption of a genuine Euro-Arab dialogue, and also a lukewarm enthusiasm, even cold for a Union for the Mediterranean too European and that arbitrarily excludes some Arab states.

Secondly, the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Union for the Mediterranean took place at the beginning of the week in Marseille. For its first year, the new Euromed structure was unfortunately unconvincing, stumbling upon squabbles of interest of all kinds. Backed by all the Arab members, the Arab League has succeeded in being accepted as a full participant in exchange for a permanent post of deputy secretary for Israel. On the other hand Barcelona wins the seat of the Secretariat, what make some people regret a new structural imbalance to the North.

The general impression at the end of this week is that for the Arab countries, the Union for the Mediterranean is a structure imposed by Europe without consulting its partners in the South. It does not convince. It is too European, even too French, or manipulated by Israel. The Arab countries seem rather willing to deal with Europe as Arabs than as part of the Mediterranean.

On its side, Europe appears to be hung in its Euro-Mediterranean project, even if it has to be tinted with « Euro-Arab. » Today as member of the Union for the Mediterranean, the Arab League is invited to play a more active role. Focus has now to be put on what the South, and particularly the Arab states are waiting from Europe, because for the moment nothing is less clear.

 

N.J.O.