There has been alot about the Union for the Mediterranean (UM) in the news lately, but I am unsure of what it will do. The idea was first mooted by Nicolas Sarkozy, during his election campaign, as an alternative to Turkish Membership of the EU. This led to Turkey opposing the idea, but on being told it would not be an alternative, Turkey lent its support.
So who would be prospective members of the UM?
the french had to back down to plans that it would only compromise EU states bordering the Med, due to oppistion from Germany and other states who were uncomfortable with EU funds being spent where they had no say. So the UM would compromise the 27 EU member states (do I really have to list them?) plus the following countries taking part in the Barcelona Process (That could be another post, but I’ll just give the Wiki Link!)
*Turkey (EU Candidate)
What are the aims of the UM?
Under the original plans, members would form a regular council under a rotating presidency (similar to the current EU model) dealing with energy, security, counter-terrorism, immigration and trade. French nuclear expertise would be exchanged for North African gas reserves. The Mediterranean and European Unions would work together and share some institutions, including a common judicial area to fight corruption, terrorism, organised crime and people smuggling. Many plans for institutions (eg Mediterranean Investment Bank) were dropped as the project was scaled down due to European reaction to the proposals.
My Opinion on the UM
Personally, I dont see the point, and see it as (at first) a French proposal to gain dominance in the Med. It is/was a way for France for securing Gas Reserves in exchange for Nuclear Expertise. I also see this as an overlap with the Arab Maghreb Union (Members: Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia). This will creat a myriad of organisations in the Med, instead of building on the Barcelona Process (or Euromediterranean Partnership). I’m not sure how this one will pan out. Personally I dont see it as a positive thing for either Europe or the Med.