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Members of the Union for the Mediterranean[1]

      Members of the European Union       Other members                      Observer members

Administrative centre Barcelona, Spain[2]
 -  Co-presidency Egypt Egypt
France France
 -  Total 12,358,770 km2 
4,771,748 sq mi 

The Union for the Mediterranean (French: Union pour la Méditerranée, Italian: Unione per il Mediterraneo, Spanish: Unión para el Mediterráneo, Arabic: الإتحاد من أجل المتوسط‎), officially known by the full name of Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean (BP:UfM)[3] and previously known as the "Mediterranean Union"[4], is a community initiated on 13 July 2008 by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.[5][6] It is a new formulation of the existing (since 1995) Euromediterranean Partnership, also known as the Barcelona Process. The act unites all EU members with several non-EU countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean are located in Barcelona, Spain.


Institutions and aims

The former Royal Palace of Pedralbes (Barcelona), headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean

Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM)

More than 80 locally elected representatives and 43 partners of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) are being brought together in Barcelona by the Committee of the Regions (CoR) on January 21, 2010, for the first meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM). The meeting takes place at the seat of the Union for the Mediterranean, the Pedralbes Palace in Barcelona.[7]

The Assembly provides a new institutional framework within the Union for the Mediterranean, with a permanent platform bringing together members of the CoR, representatives of European institutions involved in Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation and their counterparts from the Mediterranean partner countries.

The aim is to strengthen cooperation between local and regional authorities around the Mediterranean in order to give the relationship a territorial dimension beyond its existing parliamentary dimension within the Barcelona Process.

The ARLEM meeting will see the election of two co-presidents for the new institution. The Assembly consists of equal numbers of local and regional representatives from EU Member States and countries of the Mediterranean rim.[7]


Members would form a regular council under a rotating presidency.

The Mediterranean and European Unions would work together and share some institutions, including a common judicial area.

The Mediterranean Union would be a looser grouping than the EU. Sarkozy called on the Mediterranean people to "do the same thing, with the same goal and the same method" as the European Union, though he stated it would not be based on the EU model.[8]


The predecessor to the Union for the Mediterranean, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership was seen as a failure by some, because it included all EU members, which is considered to have distracted from focusing on purely Mediterranean issues.

In the immediate aftermath of the establishment of the Union for the Mediterranean at the July 2008 Paris Summit, the CoR submitted a proposal to the Heads of State and Government for the creation, in the form of a Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly, of a territorial dimension to the partnership. This proposal was promoted and supported by partner countries and approved at the Marseille meeting of Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers in November 2008.[7]


French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed the Union during his election campaign.

The proposal was originally made as part of Sarkozy's election campaign.[9][10][11] Following his electoral victory, the idea was reiterated, with plans being drawn up.[12][13] Despite the potential division it could cause to the Middle East, with part being united with Europe, and part separated, President Sarkozy saw the initiative as a way of promoting peace between Israel and its Muslim neighbours.[12] It was hoped that an institutional core will be established by the end of the French presidency of the European Union in 2008.[14] On 23 October 2007 Sarkozy invited all Mediterranean leaders to a summit in France to take place in June 2008 where they would "lay the foundations of a political, economic and cultural union founded on the principles of strict equality."[8]

Criticism of the proposal at these early stages included concern about the relationship between the proposed MU and the existing Euromediterranean Partnership, which might reduce the effectiveness of EU policies in the region and allow the southern countries to play on the rivalries to escape unpopular EU policies. There were similar economic concerns in the loss of civil society and similar human rights based policies. Duplication of policies from the EU's police and judicial area was a further worry.[15]

The idea was originally proposed as an alternative to Turkish membership in the European Union, whereby Turkey would instead form the backbone of the new Mediterranean Union.[16] However, with modifications to the plan in March 2008, membership was no longer seen as an alternative to joining the European Union, and instead considered more as a stepping stone into the EU. Once Turkey was given a guarantee in March 2008 that the project would not be an alternative to Turkish EU membership, it accepted the invitation to participate.


At the start of 2008 Sarkozy began to modify his plans for the Mediterranean Union due to widespread opposition from other states in the EU and the Commission (see "Reactions" below).[17] At the end of February of that year France's minister for European affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, stated that "there is no Mediterranean Union" but rather a "Union for the Mediterranean" which would only be "completing and enriching" to existing EU structures and policy in the region.[4] Following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel it was agreed that the project would include all EU member states, not just those bordering the Mediterranean, and built upon the existing Barcelona process. Turkey also agreed to take part in the project following a guarantee from France that it was no longer intended as an alternative to EU membership. The UM was launched on the 13–14 July 2008.[6]

When the project was modified in 2008, many proposals were dropped, such as a Mediterranean Investment Bank (modeled on its European counterpart).[12] Instead it would focus on more practical projects.[18] The original "Mediterranean Union", which would have included only Mediterranean states, was hoped to avoid this situation by having a clearer direction. However, when the Mediterranean Union was modified to become the Union for the Mediterranean, it was decided that all EU members would be involved.[5][12][13]


The common judicial area is used to fight corruption, terrorism, organised crime and people smuggling.

Main focus of the Union for the Mediterranean is to deal with energy, security, counter-terrorism, immigration and trade. French nuclear power expertise would be exchanged for North African gas reserves.

The Mediterranean Solar Plan is a project of Union for the Mediterranean to install concentrating solar power in the deserts.[19]


The Union consists of all the EU states and those 21 countries on the Mediterranean rim or those which are participating in the Euromediterranean Partnership.[6] The idea is to form economic/political connections between Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.[12]

The original proposals would have excluded the EU states not bordering the Mediterranean and only include the 21 Mediterranean Countries who share many aspect ethnically, culturally...etc. .[20] All other EU states apart from France, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Malta, Greece, and Cyprus, would have been silent observers[8] which angered those countries who would not be involved, such as Germany, as it did not approve of EU funds being used in a project over which it had no influence.[6][17]

Flag State Population Area
to the Mediterranean Sea
Albania Albania &0000000003600523.0000003,600,523 &0000000000028748.00000028,748 Yes
Arab League Algeria Algeria &0000000033333216.00000033,333,216 &0000000002381740.0000002,381,740 Yes
European Union Austria Austria &0000000008316487.0000008,316,487 &0000000000083871.00000083,871 No
European Union Belgium Belgium &0000000010584534.00000010,584,534 &0000000000030528.00000030,528 No
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina &0000000004448500.0000004,448,500 &0000000000051197.00000051,197 Yes
European Union Bulgaria Bulgaria &0000000007679290.0000007,679,290 &0000000000110912.000000110,912 No
Croatia Croatia[nb 1] &0000000004653500.0000004,653,500 &0000000000056542.00000056,542 Yes
European Union Cyprus Cyprus &0000000000766400.000000766,400 &0000000000009251.0000009,251 Yes
European Union Czech Republic Czech Republic &0000000010306709.00000010,306,709 &0000000000078866.00000078,866 No
European Union Denmark Denmark &0000000005457415.0000005,457,415 &0000000000043094.00000043,094 No
Arab League Egypt Egypt &0000000077420000.00000077,420,000 &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ","1,002,450 Yes
European Union Estonia Estonia &0000000001342409.0000001,342,409 &0000000000045226.00000045,226 No
European Union Finland Finland &0000000005289128.0000005,289,128 &0000000000338145.000000338,145 No
European Union France France &0000000063392140.00000063,392,140 &0000000000674843.000000674,843 Yes
European Union Germany Germany &0000000082314906.00000082,314,906 &0000000000357050.000000357,050 No
European Union Greece Greece &0000000011125179.00000011,125,179 &0000000000131990.000000131,990 Yes
European Union Hungary Hungary &0000000010066158.00000010,066,158 &0000000000093030.00000093,030 No
European Union Republic of Ireland Ireland &0000000004239848.0000004,239,848 &0000000000070273.00000070,273 No
Israel Israel &0000000007434000.0000007,434,000 &0000000000022072.00000022,072 Yes
European Union Italy Italy &0000000059131287.00000059,131,287 &0000000000301318.000000301,318 Yes
Arab League Jordan Jordan &0000000005924000.0000005,924,000 &0000000000089342.00000089,342 No
European Union Latvia Latvia &0000000002281305.0000002,281,305 &0000000000064589.00000064,589 No
Arab League Lebanon Lebanon &0000000004099000.0000004,099,000 &0000000000010452.00000010,452 Yes
European Union Lithuania Lithuania &0000000003373991.0000003,373,991 &0000000000065303.00000065,303 No
European Union Luxembourg Luxembourg &0000000000476200.000000476,200 &0000000000002586.0000002,586 No
European Union Malta Malta &0000000000404962.000000404,962 &0000000000000316.000000316 Yes
Arab League Mauritania Mauritania &0000000003069000.0000003,069,000 &0000000001030700.0000001,030,700 No
Monaco Monaco &0000000000032671.00000032,671 &0000000000000001.9500001.95 Yes
Montenegro Montenegro &0000000000678177.000000678,177 &0000000000013812.00000013,812 Yes
Arab League Morocco Morocco &0000000033757175.00000033,757,175 &0000000000446550.000000446,550 Yes
European Union Netherlands Netherlands &0000000016372715.00000016,372,715 &0000000000041526.00000041,526 No
Arab League Palestinian National Authority Palestinian National Authority[nb 2] &0000000003800000.0000003,800,000 &0000000000006020.0000006,020 Yes
European Union Poland Poland &0000000038116486.00000038,116,486 &0000000000312683.000000312,683 No
European Union Portugal Portugal &0000000010599095.00000010,599,095 &0000000000092391.00000092,391 No
European Union Romania Romania &0000000021565119.00000021,565,119 &0000000000238391.000000238,391 No
European Union Slovakia Slovakia &0000000005396168.0000005,396,168 &0000000000049037.00000049,037 No
European Union Slovenia Slovenia &0000000002013597.0000002,013,597 &0000000000020273.00000020,273 Yes
European Union Spain Spain &0000000045116894.00000045,116,894 &0000000000506030.000000506,030 Yes
European Union Sweden Sweden &0000000009142817.0000009,142,817 &0000000000449964.000000449,964 No
Arab League Syria Syria &0000000021906000.00000021,906,000 &0000000000185180.000000185,180 Yes
Arab League Tunisia Tunisia &0000000010102000.00000010,102,000 &0000000000163610.000000163,610 Yes
Turkey Turkey[nb 1] &0000000070586256.00000070,586,256 &0000000000783562.000000783,562 Yes
European Union United Kingdom United Kingdom &0000000062587300.00000062,587,300 &0000000000244820.000000244,820 Yes[nb 3]
Flag State with observer status Population Area
Access to the Mediterranean Sea
Arab League Libya Libya &0000000006036914.0000006,036,914 &0000000001759540.0000001,759,540 Yes


European Union

The project is supported by Italy[20], Spain,[21] and Greece.[22] However the EU itself and Germany have been more cautious about the idea: The European Commission has stated that such initiatives promoting regional co-operation are "good", however they say the project should build on existing structures. That was in reference to the Barcelona process which the Commission noted as being "successful". It fears Sarkozy's project would undermine the work of the Barcelona process. The Commission and EU capitals would like to know more about the details of the project.[8][23]

Sarkozy angered the Maltese government when, outlining his proposal of a Mediterranean Union in Toulon during his 2007 presidential election campaign, he listed France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Cyprus as potential members of the new entity but neglected to mention Malta. The Maltese Ambassador to France wrote to Sarkozy expressing the Maltese government’s regret at his mistake. She also reminded the then UMP Presidential candidate about Malta’s role in hosting the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly. For his part, Sarkozy immediately wrote back to apologise, reaffirming his opinion of Malta's importance in the Mediterranean region. As Minister for the Interior, Sarkozy immediately tried to make up by inviting Malta to the Frontex Exercise, paying all the expenses tied to Malta’s participation.[24]

Arab League

On 12 July 2008, the Arab states held a small meeting in Paris with the Arab Secretary-General to discuss some proposals related to the MU articles and acts. The Arab League's official reaction to the Union was sceptical. Secretary-General Amr Moussa suggested that regional problems in the Middle East must be considered before any form of the Mediterranean Union could proceed; for example the creation of the Middle East as a Nuclear weapons free zone, including nations such as Israel and Iran. Calls were also made for Israel to apply and respond to rulings under international laws against the country, such as about 70 UN resolutions in the past 60 years.

A summit held on 13 July in Paris served to launch the Union officially. It was hosted by Sarkozy and attended by the heads of government of 43 states, excepting the king of Jordan, who sent senior representatives[25]. Press reports underlined the "love" at the meeting, as it made sit in the same room leaders as Bashar Assad, Ehud Olmert and Mahmud Abbas[26]

East Mediterranean

During the French president's visit to Lebanon, the Lebanese president Michel Suleiman announced publicly that Lebanon supports the proposed union.

Israeli president Shimon Peres views Sarkozy's suggestion very positively,[27] but Turkey rejected the proposal as an alternative to EU membership.[13] When Turkey was offered a guarantee in March 2008 that it would not be an alternative to the EU, Turkey accepted the invitation to participate.[6]. Egypt was a major supporter to the project from the beginning. It is the first and current president of the union. Egypt was not pleased with Germany's rejections.[citation needed]


Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Minister of Foreign Affairs, gave a cautious response to the initiative and emphasized that it should not compete with the EU or the Barcelona process.[28] In December 2007, German chancellor Angela Merkel criticised Sarkozy's plans, saying that they risked splitting and threatening the core of the EU. In particular she criticised that just a small number of EU countries, excluding the others, would form the union with EU funds, stating that "this could release explosive forces in the union I would not like."[23] When Slovenia took the EU presidency in 2008, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša added to the criticism stating: "We do not need a duplication of institutions, or institutions that would compete with EU, institutions that would cover part of the EU and part of the neighbourhood."[29]


In response to criticism from his European partners, Sarkozy modified his original plans for the union. Disagreements with Germany led to a mini summit between the two leaders being delayed three months until June 2008, however Sarkozy still plans to hold a summit on 13 July involving the relevant EU states and the southern countries. This angered many EU countries outside as the rest of the EU would only be invited the day after to sign off the deal.[17]

See also


  1. ^ a b Croatia and Turkey are both official candidates for EU membership, and participate in the UfM due to both countries having access to the Mediterranean Sea.
  2. ^ The PNA is a non-sovereign administrative organisation, with limited control over the Palestinian territories.
  3. ^ The United Kingdom does not have access to the Mediterranean Sea, but the British overseas territory of Gibraltar is located in the Mediterranean and it is part of the European Union. The two Sovereign Base Areas on the island of Cyprus also have access to the Mediterranean, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, but are not part of the EU and have a special relationship with the European Union.


  1. ^ Mediterranean union launched with Mideast peace hopes, Agence France Presse, 13 July 2008
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Vucheva, Elitsa (27 February 2008) France says it has no preferred EU president candidate, EU Observer. For further reading, see also: Tausch, Arno (2005, Editor, with Peter Herrmann) '‘Dar al Islam. The Mediterranean, the World System and the Wider Europe. 2 v. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers. Abridged paperback ed., 2006, as “The West, Europe and the Muslim World” (Vol. 1) and “Towards a Wider Europe” (Vol. 2)
  5. ^ a b Sarkozy sounds out basis for Mediterranean Union 16 July 2007. Accessed 19 July 2007.
  6. ^ a b c d e Turkey, reassured on EU, backs 'Club Med' plan, The Guardian 4 March 2008
  7. ^ a b c Union for the Mediterranean brings Euro-Med local authorities together for ARLEM inaugural meeting
  8. ^ a b c d Goldirova, Renata (25 October 2007) France muddies waters with 'Mediterranean Union' idea, EU Observer
  9. ^ Sparks Expected to Fly Whoever Becomes France's President DW World 13 February 2007
  10. ^ Royal v Sarkozy: The policies BBC News 15 February 2007
  11. ^ Roundup: French presidential hopeful Sarkozy presents vision on foreign policy People's Daily 2 March 2007
  12. ^ a b c d e Sarkozy's proposal for Mediterranean bloc makes waves International Herald Tribune 10 May 2007
  13. ^ a b c Turkey angered by Sarkozy 'Mediterranean Union' idea EU Observer 18 May 2007
  14. ^ We are ready to create a Mediterranean Union Le Figaro 31 May 2007
  15. ^ Behr, Timo and Ruth Hanau Santini (12 November 2007) Comment: Sarkozy's Mediterranean union plans should worry Brussels, EU Observer
  16. ^ Sarkozy: "Turkey could be the backbone of a Mediterranean Union" Turkish Press Review 8 February 2007
  17. ^ a b c Mahony, Honor (25 February 2008) Franco-German summit postponed amidst speculation of rift, EU Observer
  18. ^ Balmer, Crispian (4 March 2008) Sarkozy's Med dream deflated by Germany, Reuters
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b Mediterranean Union project is core of Franco-Italian Abhaber (on Google Caché) 01/06/07
  21. ^ Spanish PM backs French plan for 'Mediterranean Union' French News 31 May 2007
  22. ^ Sarkozy Karamanlis talks
  23. ^ a b Mahony, Honor (6 December 2007) Merkel criticises Sarkozy's Mediterranean Union plans, EU Observer
  24. ^ MaltaToday
  25. ^ AFP, July 13th, 2008
  26. ^ The Guardian, July 14th, 2008
  27. ^ Mediterranean Union: EJP 7 May 2007
  28. ^ Germany cautious on Sarkozy's Mediterranean bloc plan, EU Business, July 5, 2007
  29. ^ Keller, Caroline (17 January 2008) Slovenia criticises French Mediterranean Union proposal, EU Observer

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