Dialogue 5+5 (Western Mediterranean)

First proposed by the French President François Mitterrand at the beginning of the 1980s, the idea was relaunched by the Italian President, Bettino Craxi, and the Spanish Prime Minister, Felipe González in the second half of the decade. The initiative concerns 10 countries around the West Mediterranean sea countries, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya on the southern rim and Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Malta (1) on the northern rim. This regional initiative aims to establish a propitious frame for dialogue and cooperation amongst member countries to tackle issues as security and stability, economical integration and regional migration.

The first meeting of Foreign Ministers took place in Rome in October 1990, but the process met many obstacles that made it impossible to be realised, notably the Gulf War, the Lockerbie case, divergences among Maghreb countries and the disputes among France, Italy and Spain for the leadership of the initiative

After a long interruption, the Dialogue resumed in Lisbon in January 2001. Two other reunions of Foreign Affairs ministers have taken place thereafter (Tripoli –Libya- in May 2002 and Saint Maxime –France- in April 2003).

The Dialogue 5+5 includes also parliamentary reunions and sectorial (there have been notably two ministerial reunions about Migration, in Tunis, October 2002 and Rabat, October 2003).

In December 2003, for the very first time, Heads of State and of Government convened in the Forum. The President of the Commission, Romano Prodi, and Javier Solana, High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy were invited to the Summit. The main topics discussed during the Summit were stability and security, development and economical integration in the Maghreb, migrations and cultural dialogue (see Tunis Final declaration).

Since it was relaunched, the concerned countries attach great importance to this forum, as it allows informal and constructive exchanges, pointing out the specificity of the West Mediterranean.

The Dialogue 5+5 complements other cooperation initiatives in the Mediterranean, like the Mediterranean Forum and the Euro-Mediterranean Forum.

Note

(1) The group was initially called “4+5”. It became “5+5” when Malta joined the initiative in the second conference, held in Alger in 1991.