The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: Political and Security Aspects

The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: Political and Security Aspects
Prepared By: Prof. Michel NEHME

One intriguing aspect of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership's (EMP) completion is that the EU now has an association agreement with every country that was once part of the Roman Empire, with the exception of Libya and Trajan's conquests. While the partnership is hardly a re-creation of the Roman world, it does represent a formal inclusion of the Mediterranean rim in the European sphere for the third time in history. In classical times, the Mediterranean itself was the focus of Western civilization with central Europe at its periphery; during the colonial era, this position was reversed. The third attempt at trans-Mediterranean integration will be different from the previous ones in that it will be founded on mutual consent rather than conquest, although economic inequalities will make the EU the dominant partner for the time being.

How far this integration will proceed remains to be seen, and not all the Mediterranean rim nations will take part equally. At one end of the scale are Malta and Cyprus, which are destined to be EU members themselves. Nations like Tunisia and Israel, which have modern or modernizing economies but are further from the European cultural sphere, will likely participate in many European core institutions without becoming full members, while others such as Syria and Algeria may never progress beyond association. Turkey is on the margin between the first and second of these groups; Lebanon and Morocco straddle the borderline between the second and third. Taken together, though, the Mediterranean countries may someday form the foundation of a conception of Europe that is not necessarily limited by geography.


Overview of research

Some of the main literature about the topic can be summarized as follows:

Stephen Calleya (2000) in his study: Is Barcelona Process Working? Stresses that EMP offers a unique opportunity to strengthen political, economic and cultural ties across the Euro-Mediterranean area defining the Mediterranean as a geo-strategic area composed of sub-regions; yet throughout its twenty-eight years of direct engagement in the region the EU has failed to reach a progress in achievement of stability and security in the region. He emphasizes that Euro-Mediterranean process is the most adequate type of multilateral forum that can further cooperative security in the area and EMP is the only regional institutional arrangement that brings states of the region together. Moreover, to date, no other trans-Mediterranean security arrangement has been able to move beyond the theoretical stage of development. (Calleya, 2000:39).  

Fulvio Attina (2002, 2000) sees the new regionalism as an appropriate theory to grasp the EMP and evaluates the Mediterranean as security partnership building. He also emphasizes the role of security cultures in the evaluation of the EMP.

Bicchi (2001) stresses that the end of Cold War and communism along with the rise of terrorism led Western countries to point the Mediterranean as a new hostility frontier. Security perceptions have become more accentuated that is why a study of Mediterranean needs is bound to include security perceptions into analytical framework.  According to Bicchi (2001), migration, Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism are the primary issues in the new configuration of European security perceptions while the economy and environmental issues are secondary. However, Islamic fundamentalism was perceived as a substantial challenge to both European domestic politics and outside European borders and stayed at political level whereas migration is securitised through emergency measures. 

Bicchi (2001:2) also states that definition of security is while vertically deepened which added other actors like individual and society beside states into analysis, horizontally broadened which include a wider range of potential threats. In fact, the EMP itself is founded on the premise and goals of achieving cooperative and comprehensive security.  

Like Attina, Joffe (2001) also evaluates the EMP from the new regionalist perspective and he states that although EMP is articulated in largely economic terms, Barcelona Declaration makes it clear that its signatories recognized the underlying social, political and security realities on which it will impact (Joffe, 2001:208). According to Joffe (2001), the EU does not possess either the means or the will to be involved in hard security issues in the Mediterranean so leaving hard security issues to the US and NATO, the EU intends to resolve soft security problems by providing economic support, confidence-building measures and continuous dialogue. Thus, European security vision in the Mediterranean is tending to be holistic rather than particularistic and addressing specific problems. Moreover, Europe’s security concerns about Mediterranean region reflected the fact that it formed part of the European periphery or hinterland. (Joffe, 2001: 215)

Spencer  (1998) stresses that the EU with Barcelona Initiative supports cooperative policy moving away from defensive or confrontational security approaches. However, the viability is questionable as it bases the partnership on perceived negative factors such as Islamic fundamentalism.

Pierros et al. (1999) State that many problems facing the region like immigration, unemployment, terrorism and pollution are concerns shared by peoples on both shores of the Mediterranean, thereby require common solutions.


Is there a common identity for the EMP? 

The basis of lacking confidence among the countries of the EMP relies on definitional and perceptional differences underlying security policies and perspectives. Indeed, the definition of the Mediterranean itself is ambiguous, since the Mediterranean in geographical terms does not match the political definitions of the region. Panebianco (2000) emphasizes that the EMP brings together 27 partners with different levels of socio-economic development and socio-political systems differently ranged in democratic development scale. Differences among the countries of the region require particular policy for the region. While the EU tends to categorize the North African countries as Maghreb and the Eastern Mediterranean as Mashreq and treat them accordingly, these countries do not see themselves in such categorizations. 

The security complex theory agreeing with the constructivism underlines that the ideas, perceptions of members determine the regional formation. The fear and. otherness, are still present in the Mediterranean basin and they are obstacles to improve partnership. The legacy of European colonialism and imperialism, the Arab’s perception that the West aims to penetrate and control the weaker states and the lack of experience of relation based on confidence hinder the development of CBMs/ PBMs. While one party sees the other as a threat, it is not conceivable to create a dialogue, which assumes creating a minimum confidence between the participants (Spencer, 1998:146). The Barcelona Process does not make clear dialogue or definition on key issues like fight against terrorism, arms control and disarmament due to the perceptional gap. Moreover, declaring migration as security threat may also deepen the gap between communities since it means perceiving immigrants as direct threat with this rhetoric. In fact, the conclusions of the Naples Ministerial conference show that migration is dealt with in the third basket rather than the first one in general.

 The European Commission (2001) defines conflict prevention as structural stability that will be provided through structural reforms strengthening democracy, human rights, viable political structure, sustainable economic development and healthy environmental and social conditions. In contrast, these terms are subjective and tools for intervention in the eyes of Mediterranean states. Since reforms produce solid results in the long run while producing short-term instability and conflicts, the EMP needs to manage and monitor these short-term instabilities, thereby use ad-hoc measures to prevent them  (Aliboni, 2002). Instead of forcing the MPCs to recognize the conditions fully in the short run and becoming a Europe imposing solutions, the EU needs to be more flexible and show the societies of the MPCs the benefits of change through education so that the reforms can come from below within the MPCs. This will enhance the collective response and reduce the asymmetrical relations.

The Arab states question absence of other North African and Arab nations such as Libya, Mauritania and Saudi Arabia in the membership of the EMP so view double standard in the partnership. This prompts them to be suspicious about the EMP and interpret it as reflection of priorities of the EU and EU member states instead of collective will of all Mediterranean. Moreover, after the failure of the EU in the Bosnian crisis, it is difficult for the Arab Muslims to trust Europe.

In relation to the Middle East conflict, the security conceptions and perceptions of the Arab world do not match with the EU’s perception. Arabs perceive the role of Europe in the Middle East conflict as unbalanced policy in favor of Israel, whereas Israel thinks of Europeans as unsupportive to Israel’s basis. The difference between the Arab and European security cultures reduces the possibility of regional cooperation so becoming a big obstacle to the EMP. Attina (2002) stresses that the double nature of partnership based on cooperative and comprehensive dimensions is difficult to be accepted by Arab policy makers. Even if they welcome benefits of economic relations with Europe, they show strong resistance against the political conditionalities imposing socio-economic and political adaptation as well as military transparency because their security culture is based on self-help and national power. Thus, Attina suggests that partnership building, conflict prevention, early warning and preventive diplomacy seem feasible only at a later stage of the Mediterranean security partnership and the priority should be given to reduce gap between cultures (Attina, 2002:17). However, while the priority is to be given to the reduction of the gaps between cultures by promoting mutual trust and consensus, it should be kept in mind that the PBMs as a whole would also work to bring closer the cultures and prepare ground for mutual trust.


The MEPP was the focus in most of the conferences that hindered the other issues to be handled. The solution of the Middle East conflict will speed up the process. Failure of Oslo Peace Process and increasing violence in Occupied Territories contribute to suspicions and hostility in the Arab world (Biad, 2002). However, since it seems that solution will take time, the Process should be decoupled from the situation in the Middle East as much as possible and emphasize that the EMP is not a forum to find solution for the Middle East conflict; rather the EMP is more than MEPP and can create indirect solutions (Nadal, 2002:  24). Moreover, focus of the participants during the conferences was whether the Barcelona Process could be separated from the MEPP. But according to Hollis (2000), the real question is not this or implementation, but a. conceptual flaw that Barcelona ignores the unresolved conflicts and proposes conflict resolution with creation of new mechanism in a setting, which has yet to be created (Hollis, 2000:117).

Another important point is that priorities among three baskets are not evenly set and it is assumed that economic progress would bring political and social development. This reinforces the perception held by Arabs that the EU intervenes in the region to gain market. The Arabs perceive democracy, human rights and globalization as a method for European interference. The policy responses of North and South differ against the challenges that while the North prefers proactive long-term policies aimed at political and economic reforms in Southern countries, the South pursues defensive policies intended to secure good political relations and socio-economic cooperation while avoiding interference (Aliboni, 2002:7). Another scholar points out that it is for societies concerned to move towards democracy and the rule of law so the Western countries can help to create good conditions and appropriate environment for development in this target (Hamdani, 2002:176). Therefore, the EMP needs to balance three baskets, reflect linkages between the economic, security, and political and social realms.

Related to this, the EMP needs to go beyond the state level and reach the hearts and minds of societies. This could be possible with more dialogue and interaction. The EU can act as a mediator to activate the local actors and let them make decisions so as to reduce the mistrust. Calleya (2000) underlines that it should be the main local actors involved in a crisis because the preventive measures could be successful if the majority of the local actors comprehend that compliance would provide more benefit. At this point, EU could use its political, economic and social mechanism to influence decision-makers at local level (Calleya, 2000).

Changes in Iraq with the US involvement in 2003 together with the strong ties of Iraq with Mashreq raise the question on its impact in the EMP and whether the Gulf States should be included into the Process. However, the inclusion of Iraq into EMP would disqualify the Mediterranean as a geographical reference for the partnership, which has a positive connotation for Europeans and the MPCs (Philippart, 2003). In addition, the inclusion of Iraq would underline the double standard as the EMP still excludes other non-Mediterranean countries. Moreover, the Gulf States have distinct political structure with lower governance and human rights level, which will reduce the EMP’s prospective goals and success (Phillipart, 2003). Hence, it is more viable for the EU to continue its relations with the Gulf States at the bilateral level and within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council. In fact, the European Commission underlines that the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Iran, Iraq and Yemen are not part of the EMP.

The pattern of amity-enmity is one of the main elements in a security complex. In the EMP, the divergence in definitions and perceptions show that in the spectrum of the patterns of amity-enmity defined by the Copenhagen School, the pattern is closer to the negative end of the spectrum for the MENA states towards the Europeans. For the Europeans, the pattern is shaped by the factors like immigration and terrorism. Increase in immigration, religious fundamentalism, terrorism and refugees from the Middle East have shifted the Europeans perception more to the negative side of the spectrum. It led to a rise of xenophobia and Islamophobia in the society. Furthermore, these factors have been politicized and even securitized by the far right political parties, which cultivated the nationalist attitude of the European societies. The recent rise of extreme right political parties in France and Austria exemplifies this. The EMP project can be classified to stay in the middle end of the spectrum where states still treat each other as potential threats but have agreed on certain points and created, in this case, the Barcelona Declaration. However, the lack of commitment and progress in the Process shows that within state level and societal level, the negative pattern preserves. Furthermore, within the

EU, states stand closer to the positive end where the relationships are mutually constructive while in the South-South case, states are closer to the negative end that intra-regional relations are shaped by fear and conflict. Therefore, the foremost obstacle against the Barcelona Process is this negative pattern. Although the 27 Mediterranean states by signing the EMP depicted their will to reduce security dilemma through security partnership, the partners need to revise the policy, their rhetoric and the commitment so as to move the pattern to the positive side of the spectrum.


Actor Involvement in the Region

The EMP is not the only actor in the region for security cooperation.  NATO, OSCE and ACRS are also working to promote security and stability in the region. However, EMP differs from these initiatives. In the EMP, actors and context are indirectly related and not consistent (Hollis, 2000). The EMP is not a transatlantic but a EU regional initiative (Tayfur, 2000:5). Yet, any regional security cooperation in the Mediterranean should consider the US position and interest as well as the other multinational actors in the region in order to prevent duplication and competition. In addition, different initiatives comprise different countries. When organizations tasked with the collective defense of their members enter a dialogue with non-members, who are perceived as a Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Oman, potential source of threat, they risk reinforcing rather than ameliorating suspicions between them (Hollis, 2000:120). The involvement of the major powers in the Mediterranean and these collective defense organizations are signs of existence of realism in the region. Any act of one power would create suspicion and feel of potential threat in this anarchic and realist world. Therefore, the EU needs to consider the US role in MEPP and try not to conflict or overlap with its role in the issue.

Initially, the US asked for participation to the Barcelona Process but this was rejected and instead it was granted observer status. The US accepted this on the understanding that the Process would not extend beyond the US considerations in regions of conflict. The EMP alone could not engender a conflict resolution mechanism that could reduce tension in the Middle East dispute.

Aliboni (1998) argues that the EU is not a fully-fledged security actor in the Imp’s sphere, so it cannot act as a guarantor and mediator. It cannot get directly in touch with factors, which affect the security perceptions in the area. Yet, this study shows that it can act as mediator though it is not a fully security actor because of the lack of a European security architecture that deals with the hard security issues. The ESDP is formed to be a structure dealing with the humanitarian issues, peacekeeping, peace enforcement and crisis management. Its scope of action is limited and it lacks capability. During the discussion on Constitutional Treaty, the 15 EU members show their willingness for joint action and extend its scope of action beyond the Europe. Yet, the priority of the EU is in and around Europe.

The capability gap between EU vis-à-vis US and the inconvenience led by a strong ESDP to NATO are two crucial factors that create a division of labor between the actors that while the US holds hard security; the EU deals with soft security issues. Both sets of issues are separable but cannot be separated so neglect of one would hinder development (Serfaty, 2000:61). The issues as soft or hard security also change over time and context. NATO is central for any military event in the region and the EMP sets itself not to conflict with the issues Nacho’s dealing with.

Indeed, the partners and especially the EU member states are unwilling to bear the costs of hard security issues. The diverging interests among the EU members restrict to have common position. Therefore, they prefer the US and NATO to hold the hard security issues. This tendency is reflected in the rhetoric of Barcelona Declaration (1995) with the statement that this Euro-Mediterranean Initiative is not intended to replace other activities or initiatives but contribute to their success (Aliboni, 1998). The transatlantic relations, the devastating influence of the US in the formulation of the European security structure and the US emphasis on Israel’s strategic interests jeopardize Europe’s efforts towards a just and balanced solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Hence, the EU role is limited in this region. However, if the EU wants to be a fully-fledged security actor in the global system, it has to develop its stance in the hard security realm of the EMP and not allow the US to be the only actor in the Middle East. The EU could act as a balancer in the MEPP and prevent the US to be super power and break the international law.  This requires the EU member states to go beyond their national interests and positions, though it seems unrealistic for now.


Security assessment

In an attempt to assess the security aspect of the Barcelona Process and the EMP within the theoretical framework of new regionalism and Copenhagen School, existing cooperation projects and positive developments in the Mediterranean basin require attention. New regionalism with its broader perspective of studying non-homogenous regions provides an explanation of regional cooperation in the Mediterranean.  Historical ties, economic and political interdependence of Europe and MPCs (the 12 Mediterranean partners countries in the EMP), security, vulnerabilities, and geopolitics are the main factors that led the EMP. The EMP accepts a comprehensive security by tackling the five sectors of security. The EMP depicts its will to achieve cooperation in five sectors. The EU is to tackle the challenges posed by globalisation and the interdependent international system initiates the Barcelona Process. However, it gained the support of the MPCs who are also under the risks of similar challenges. Civil society contribution to the Process is an important part in evolution of the EMP that will enhance grassroots support for cooperation and produce constructive dialogue thereby reducing the misperceptions, prejudices in the societies and states. 

There is a regional organization in the Euro-Mediterranean area institutionalized by Barcelona Process and membership of the MPCs together with EU member states is the main point that allows defining the boundaries of the regional cooperation. The EMP aims at cooperation in economic, military, political and cultural fields. Yet, since the Mediterranean is heterogeneous the organization level is low and interdependence of the constituent units triggered the cooperation in order to enhance their own security in the World Order anarchical system. 

 From the realist point of view, the EMP can be viewed as the EU’s attempt to extend its interest in and power over its neighbours by establishing cooperation relations. So far most indicators showed that there are asymmetrical relations between the EU and MPCs in economic and security realms. The EU is the powerful actor within the EMP with more voice in the decision-making and more resources to promote development. The EMP also enhances the EU’s stance in the international system. The Mediterranean elites and governments accept European dominance bewaring the asymmetrical relationship since they see to themselves the benefits of European economic aid and trade relations.

Since the creation of EMP, even if there is no considerable development, the EU continues its support for the initiative and accepts the costs of the project.  Despite the problems in the Process, the participant governments stress their willingness to solve them and further the cooperation. The neo-liberal premise of security interdependence pushes the EMP partners to cooperate. The EMP promotes institutionalization of the relations and enhances transparency and exchange of information.

Nonetheless, the asymmetrical relations make the EMP adopts a reactionary policy. This needs to be changed because it aggravates dissension between Europe and the MPCs further instead of restoring the differences. Moreover, since both the EU and MPCs share similar concerns of security problems, it will be more viable to construct a common policy, which has laid the basis of the Barcelona Process.


The EMP cannot be seen as a security community because it lacks collective identity and due to the low flow of interaction. But the partnership in time may lead towards a security community. 

The EMP is related to the systemic factors mainly because the security is relational and systemic factors are structuring the regional relations. They intensify the security interdependence among the units of the partnership. As the EU and the MPCs are interdependent, they need a partnership in order to achieve comprehensive security both in domestic and the regional levels. Distribution of powers and the historical relations of amity and enmity shape the regional patterns.

The EMP holds the main characteristics of a security region. It is constructed by 27 states which constitute a geographically coherent grouping and whose relations are marked by deep security interdependence. The EMP falls into the heterogeneous complex category since it integrates different types of actors like states, NGOs, firms and the international organizations (the EU), which interact across different security sectors. 

The five security sectors targeted by the EMP and mostly declared are: illegal immigration, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, the Middle East conflict and weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which are interlinked with each other. These challenges depicted the significance of the problems and the necessity to cooperate to prevent them. In addition, the roots of the challenges require a comprehensive approach encompassing the development in economic, political, social and security realms.  The Barcelona Initiative reflects a consensus among European states and the MPCs to target the origin of the problems. The Barcelona Process, in theory and principle, is a sounding policy with its realistic identification of problems and its vision of solution with an emphasis on partnership.

In their evaluation of EMP, some observers showed several shortcomings classified as inter and intra-institutional incoherence, definitional/perceptional problems and multi-actor involvement in the region. Upon the basis of these weaknesses, the basic conclusions that one could come up with are:

First, the EMP should target at creating South-South cooperation in political, economic and security terms in order to create a consistent region and to have a healthy symmetrical interdependence between the EU and the MPCs.  The Process should not further fragment the sub-regions; instead they should be pushed to integrate the international system gradually.

Second, the continuation of capability gaps and institutional insufficiencies in the EU’s policies will allow the US to be the dominant actor in the Mediterranean preventing a comprehensive role for the EU.

Third, the gap between security cultures of the partners needs to be reduced through mutual dialogue and transaction. The political and economic stability in the

Mediterranean region is vital for European security. This requires a pro-active development policy of Europe vis-à-vis its neighbors in the Southern Mediterranean, rather than a reactive approach. The main condition for partnership is that European countries give up the colonial habits of interfering in the affairs of the MPCs and preserve balance in relations.  Political conditionality in terms of subjective and relative issues creates suspicions in the MPCs towards the EU and produces further counter-attacks and gaps. Therefore, Europe’s co-operation with the MPCs should be based on mutual respect for each other’s civilization.  The EMP should be equally central to the both sides of the Mediterranean. All people in the region need to perceive the EMP as workable and effective program that brings peace and progress. The role of NGOs is crucial in realizing this. If the EMP becomes incapable of restoring the social break and stability within the Mediterranean basin, the Mediterranean can become a zone of instability. In order to make the Mediterranean a zone of peace and prosperity, the EMP process should be developed. 


The EMP should enhance the necessary instruments and institutions to speed interaction among actors and crisis prevention.  It is also necessary that both sides should show their political commitment to the Process through their rhetoric. Presenting the clash between Islam and Christianity would deteriorate the issue. The common ground on security could be achieved through political dialogue and will. The Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) is also crucial as any given solution would make the EMP more feasible and stimulate partners to contribute to solutions of challenges more vigorously. The EU also needs to set a more active stance towards the Middle East conflict while not overlapping the position of the US.

The patterns of relations are shaped by the gap between perceptions and security culture of Europe and the Arabs. The MENA states still preserve enmity due to history, colonial heritage and interventions while the EU with its rhetoric reinforces this enmity.  Rise of xenophobia, terrorist attacks and density of security challenges could push the European states more to pattern of enmity with tight policies. The EU needs to prevent the relationship from going in a negative direction, and push for friendlier, constructive dialogues.  The constructivist premise of inter-subjective understanding should be realized within the EMP.

After September 11 and the Iraqi War in 2003 Barcelona Process became more vital. September 11 events have not only strengthened the relations among partners to act jointly, but also appreciated the importance of cultural and political dialogue. The post-Iraqi situation will influence the region as a whole.  In the long run the consequences of the Post-Iraqi system will influence the perceptions of the Arab world according to the kind of settlement in the country. Beginning with September 11, the successive events have revealed the importance of the Barcelona Process and revised the agenda in the Process. 

An assessment of the EMP would show that the EMP is an ambitious and long-term program. It is crucial because it is the only forum in the region that provides an arena for dialogue between governments and peoples of the two shores of the Mediterranean and it has a multifaceted method. It is not viable to expect concrete solutions after eight years.  In the long run the problems and shortcomings in the EMP can be solved. It is a difficult road that both sides should give up some interests and contribute equally and willingly to build bridges between cultures, societies and states that would construct a prosperous, secure and stable Mediterranean region. 

The security challenges has shown so far that the problems in the Euro-Mediterranean region require collaborative interaction. At one point, the EMP depicts a fundamental step on the way to solutions. But then, until now the Barcelona Process could not produce tangible and considerable results. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the Process and see the reasons that slowed it down.


Positive Impacts of the EMP

The Barcelona Process is a product of globalization and interdependence within the new regionalist premises. It clarifies the problems posed by the global international environment and put suggestions onto the table. In terms of identifying problems, defining objectives, selecting intervention logics, programming, delivering projects and anchoring the policy reforms, the EMP fares much better than any previous and actual schemes in the region, including South-South ones. (Philip part, 2003:213).

In the Barcelona Conference, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian Authority came together and sat at the table along with other participants. This demonstrates the significance attached to the Process by the signatories. Moreover, the EMP provides an arena where Israel accepts the EU's role in the Middle East security and political issues. The Barcelona Process provided a diplomatic safety net in MEPP (Middle East Peace Process).

It is the only regional forum preventing the peace process from spilling back. (Behrendt, 2000:23). The Valencia Ministerial Conference (2002) happened at the height of Israeli occupation of territories. Despite this, the conference reached a consensus on the Action Plan, which aims at relaunching the Barcelona Process through new measures, enhancing visibility and institutionalizing the Process with the creation of a Parliamentary Assembly.

In addition, the Barcelona Process is crucial because it forces the South-South cooperation (slow as it is) to go beyond the North-South patterns of relation. The interaction of the MPCs with each other can speed the self-economic growth and better understanding of each other. Social and cultural interaction is important in order to reduce the misperception of each other, which is the major stimulus of security problems. Yet, it will take long time to reduce it. Political development and dialogue would promote the cooperation and reduce conflict in the region. Thus, the Barcelona Process aims at strengthening not only North-South cooperation but also South-South cooperation.

The EMP is the only political institution in the region where competence, legitimacy and resources are present (Brauch, 2001). This strengthens its potential to be a security partnership. The EU, as a partner of the EMP, is the dominant regional power in the political and economic senses. It strives to establish a culture of peaceful conflict resolution and negotiations; it has considerable military strength based on the collective potential of the EU member states; and it maintains cultural ties with societies of MENA region (Behrendt, 2000: 15). Hence, it can become an example for regional cooperation in the Mediterranean, provide resources and enhance the legitimacy of the partnership. Moreover, unlike previous attempts, all EU member states are supportive of the EMP.

From the realist point of view, the existence of a powerful partner in the security constellation strengthens the complex and the integration process. Yet, it is also important how the powerful actor uses its power and defines its position within the complex. The unbalanced relations would also nourish the tension and negative perceptions.

In other collective security attempts in the region, some of the regional countries were excluded from regional institutions whereas the EMP brought many Mediterranean countries under one roof. The invitation of Libya to attend the Stuttgart Conference and the presence of Libya in the Valencia Conference along with the Arab League, UMA (Union of Arab Maghreb) and Mauritania as guests enhanced the results. The integration of those parties into the EMP framework would further the inter- and intra-regional cooperation. The regular meetings of ministers and related actors according to the issues promote coordination of activities, exchange of information, and provide for deeper socialization, a steeper learning curve and regular adjustment of the framework for action (Philippart, 2003:214). 


The Guidelines set in the Stuttgart Conference (1999) reflected improvement in the creation of a common security concept. The principle of co-chairmanship declared in the Valencia Conference as a way to strengthen the sense of ownership of the Process is important on the way to re-balance the distribution of powers in the decision-making. Moreover, in Valencia, partners agreed to include the next meeting’s agenda as a permanent item in the agenda of each Senior Official and Euro-Med Committee in order to prevent the session from becoming hostage to non-related issue (Schumacher,

2002:235). Furthermore, the ministerial conferences also appreciate sub-regional and bilateral cooperation that would enhance flexibility in the EMP that those who are willing and capable to move forward will do. This aims for a multi-speed integration structure.  Yet, it holds the risk of further fragmentation, thereby preventing cohesion and unity.                                                

The Barcelona Process with the regional program enabled the experts and practitioners from the partner countries to work together in the fight against terrorism, drugs and organized crime, judicial cooperation and in a joint approach to migration. While the police forces and judges are trained together, common tools are used in the analysis of migratory flows. The first project in the field of migration management and border control has started for the term between 2002 and 2004. The Naples Conference welcomed the sub-regional cooperation through Agadir Process. Hence, the initial steps for creation of an inter-subjective understanding have been taken.

The assessment of the Conferences showed that the global events specifically the terrorist attacks in the US stimulated the partners to clarify their common position towards the terrorism. They focused on terrorism from a global and multidisciplinary approach. Yet, more concrete definitions of the actions and the terrorist groups are necessary.

The committee of Senior Officials has been producing new mechanisms like early warning, conflict management, sharing military data, CBMs (Confidence Building Measures)/ PBMs (Partnership Building Measures) and arms control to achieve mutual understanding and management of issues among partners. This demonstrates that the committee works on both soft and hard security issues. Expert networks called EuroMeSCo (Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission) and Strademed (Strategie et Developement en Mediterranee) support the committee in developing the Euro-Mediterranean Security Charter. These networks have linked communication networks with civil society.  They actually took the same role carried by East-West security dialogue or (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) OSCE security diplomacy (Attina, 2000:14).  Both EuroMeSCo (Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission) and Strademed enhance confidence building among partners through their ties between experts working in different sites such as the Middle East, the Maghreb and the EU. The role of civil society is vital in presenting the Process to the public and gaining their support to the partnership. This would enhance the legitimacy of the EMP while it would reduce the patterns of enmity among societies and states. Hence, the redefinition of the other could be achieved. Even up to now, the interaction among experts contributed to the creation of a common language in certain areas of security. 

Replacement of the CBMs (Confidence Building Measures) with PBMs (Partnership Building Measures) depicts a positive development since the CBMs in rhetoric reinforces the existence of a conflict. Also, involvement of PBMs underlines that the EMP tackles with hard security issues as well (Hollis, 2000). In fact, PBMs (Partnership Building Measures) encompasses more civilian and comprehensive security whereas CBMs is more focused on arms control and conflict (Aliboni, 2002).


Another important step to reduce distrust among partners occurred in the Naples Conference which supported the cooperation of the EU with the MPCs Main Partners Countries on ESDP (European Security and Defense Policy), so through dialogue of security committees the mutual understanding would be achieved. The Naples Conference calls first some countries, which will be examples for the others in the future.  Opening up ESDP to MPCs will constitute South-South PBMs in addition to the existing North-South ones by allowing exchange of information, participation of partners in planning process and decision-making  (Bishop, 2003).

However, the EU’s own problems on the ESDP should be kept in the mind, thus it is doubtful how far the nation-states could go in building up a common military structure. 

In the short term, the PBMs, could promote information flow, exchange of views, transparency and elimination of misperception. Institutional frameworks like a Euro-Med Development Center (Calleya, 2000) could assist cooperative arrangement in different security sectors and become a clearinghouse of EMP information while strengthening the cooperative regimes (Calleya, 2000:14-15). The Early Warning mechanism, part of conflict prevention, can inform the states before the threat occurs and assess the impact of security issues on Euro-Med relations.

Starting with soft security issues like environmental concerns, maritime safety and organized crime, after a while, having strengthened the security mechanism, it can tackle more sensitive security challenges such as religious fundamentalism, terrorism, WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction), (Calleya, 2000).

On the other hand, other goals like creation of a FTA (Free Trade Area) increase in investment and providing funds to the MPCs target to reduce the socio-economic gap within and between the EMP partners. The result of those initiatives could only be attained after certain time and the transition period is too painful for the MPCs. 

Suffice it to mention that the aims of the third basket, to achieve social and cultural cooperation, are the most time consuming and difficult goals to be realized. Social and cultural perceptions shaped by history and interaction is deeply rooted in the nations and societies. All analysis related to the security cultures and perceptions show the presence of many misperceptions between the societies and states. Shifting the views require reconstruction from constructivist view. Thus, it needs a long time to achieve a coherent understanding of each other and create a peaceful interaction among cultures. That is to say that the EMP is based on a long phase. The achievement of the short-term goals will produce apparent outcomes. This will stimulate the partners to contribute to the Process further, thereby fleshing out the long-term goals (Calleya, 2000). 


Shortcomings of the EMP Process

Despite the positive developments, there are crucial difficulties that prevent progress in the Process.  These problems can be classified in three main categories, inter and intra-institutional incoherence, definitional and perceptional problems and multi-actor involvement in the region. 

The main issue is the EU’s own internal incoherence and structural problems. The EU is not a cohesive unit. Despite all recent initiatives, the EU has difficulty in creating a common external position and achieving supra-nationalism in the CFSP (Common Foreign Security Policy). While the development, trade and aid issues are handled under the Community pillar, illegal immigration and asylum issues are the third pillar’s preoccupations. Finally, the political and security issues are mainly considered at intergovernmental level.  Such a division among the EU institutions makes it difficult for the EU to have a comprehensive and common policy towards the region. 

Up to now, the EU priority agenda was occupied with the Eastern enlargement and European Convention, which encompassed formation of EU constitution and institutional changes. Therefore, the Mediterranean policy was secondary. This decreased their support and interest to the EMP. The EU needs to resolve its internal problems about integration, institutions, representation and particularly the CFSP (Common Foreign Security Policy). Until the EU resolves its internal debates, the Barcelona Process will be limited by the extent to which multilateral commitments and undertakings can be made to meet the expectations of the EU’s southern partners (Spencer, 1998:150).

Among the EU’s institutions, responsibilities and priorities differ. Whereas the European Commission focuses on the operational and technical issues along with the emphasis on promotion of human rights and democracy across the region, the European Parliament is much more sensitive to the conditionality of human rights and democracy in EU relations with the third countries.  Since the CFSP issues are handled in the Council, which is composed of the member states. Governments, who prefer to keep their bilateral relations and their own conceptions of security, it is difficult to have common positions among them towards the Mediterranean.

There is still consensus problem inside the EU. Due to the different foreign policy priorities of 25 EU member states, the EU has difficulty to act in international events, crisis in that the EU lacks a common external position. For instance, in 1996 when Israel launched a military strike against Hizb-Allah in southern Lebanon, France directly entered the arena to negotiate for cease-fire without consulting with the EU. Similarly, when the US invaded Iraq, the EU states could not create common position. This underlines the presence of real politic. The EU Council meeting in Santa Maria De Feira in June 2000 adopted a Common Strategy on the Mediterranean region to arrange EU relations with the MPCs. Yet, in reality and practice the member states are divided in major issues pursuing their interests. While France, Italy, Spain support the Process, Great Britain has concern of weakening trans-Atlantic Alliance  (Biad, 2002). The EU members have varying concerns and aspirations about the Mediterranean. While UK, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Ireland do not perceive socio-economic and political problems as security threats, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands emphasize soft security challenges as direct threat (Schumacher, 2002).  Therefore, special bilateral relationships flourish between France and Algeria, Britain and Saudi Arabia, Italy and Libya, and Spain and Morocco (Serrate, 2000). Different priorities of the countries and the bilateral relations, linked to historical ties, underline that states still preserve realist view in their policy, which hinders the creation of a common position.

Lack of a Parliament within the EMP has been creating representation problems. The Naples Conference stressed the establishment of a Parliamentary Assembly under the EMP structure. This would ensure the voices of citizens to be heard. Yet, the Euro-Med Parliamentary structure has been tried to be launched since 1998 and it is processing slowly. In addition, the EMP lacks its own secretariat and other institutions to put its rhetoric into practice. Moreover, the role of the Commission in the operations creates an asymmetrical relation between the EU vis-à-vis the MPCs. Furthermore, while the Commission enhances the coherence and efficiency in implementation of the EMP, it makes the EMP subject to weaknesses in the EU foreign policy-making (Hollis, 2000:119). 

This unbalanced, asymmetrical relationship weakens the logic of partnership and the equality principle of the EMP. Moreover, it feeds the suspicions of the MPCs towards Europe. Therefore, establishment of a Euro-Med Secretariat and other institutions would speed up the transaction of information and activities as well as reduce the institutional imbalance. Besides, the inclusion of the Arab League into the EMP that organizes Arab position can balance the European Commission and promote inter-Arab coordination, thus enhancing the stance of MPCs at the negotiation table.

The decision-making mechanism in the security realm is based on the unanimity principle, which gives the veto right to any state. The unanimity system slows down the Barcelona Process and reduces coherence. However, it is difficult for now to change this system especially in an environment of mistrust. In addition, security is the most crucial policy within the foreign policy of states that prefer to preserve their control. Hence, security issues are only discussed at the ministerial level at Euro-Mediterranean Conferences. This organizational lack could be balanced with the formation of additional institutions such as a permanent council at the ambassadorial level (Biscop, 2003) or the conflict prevention center (Calleya, 2000). These kinds of institutions could follow the security issues permanently and closely so as to provide rapid reactions even before a crisis occurs. They can enhance the political and security dialogue by monitoring the events, consulting with the ministers and managing the implementation of the CBMs/PBMs. Such kinds of institutions will make EMP a more organized system that functions more effectively. 

In a security regime identified in neo-liberal institutionalism, the institutions are the tools to arrange and regulate the actions of the units. The rules, procedures of the institutions provide transparency and information about the states. Stance towards an issue. This reduces the fear produced by uncertainty and lack of information. Within the EMP, the construction of the institutions would not only enhance the transparency and trust but also it would augment the efficiency and speed of the Process. By including all 27 partners, it would equalize the roles of the participants, reduce the EU domination and enhance the Mediterranean partners (Biscop, 2003:192). Yet, the root-cause behind the institutional weakness lies in difference among security cultures. Nonetheless, by making participation in an operation on voluntary basis, the process can evolve gradually (Biscop, 2003). The voluntary basis is not unfamiliar to the EU since in the European integration constructive abstention principle has been used.  

Moreover, the lack of a treaty or a legal agreement within the EMP as well as the non-inclusion of the heads of states reduces the compliance among the partners. The legal basis and political basis would reinforce the visibility and sense of co-ownership. Hence, because of these problems and especially because the key units in the decision-making are states, the Process is based on a lowest common denominator approach. This implies that unless there is a common political will or interest on the security issue, the decision will be closer to the position of a state that prefers the preservation of the status quo i.e. the current situation.


Although equality among all members may be difficult to realize, some kind of balance is to be achieved. In fact, from a realist point of view, it is the participation of the EU that makes the EMP more viable and durable. The EU as the powerful actor could push the other actors to negotiate and also provide resources for the Process. However, this should not be misused against the MPCs. It is the superiority and lack of commitment of the EU on the crucial issues that feed the suspicions of the MPCs and their hesitation to contribute to the Process. Thus, the EU should consider the legitimate security concerns of its Arab partners in the whole EMP region if it wants to be credible in the project of EMP. Strengthening of the on-going process of involving non-governmental actors through giving more credibility and resources to the trans-national networks could also boost process and gain grassroots support.

In addition, PBMs are limited to soft-security like training the diplomats, creation of networks, exchange of information on human rights, disarmament and cooperation among civil services. However, further precise and innovative PBMs are needed. Actually, the EU’s resources and constructive abstention principles implies those who do not want to participate in an operation will not prevent the others to do so from taking part (Biscop, 2003). Management system is still limited for providing sufficient support for the EMP and its PBMs (Partnership Building Measure). Therefore, hard security issues or operations are under the control of NATO (Schumacher, 2002).

Hence, the EU needs to consider those factors and support more in economic terms so as to show its full commitment to the Process. The EMP should consider improving the access of the Mediterranean countries to the EU markets. The economic concern is also linked to the domestic systems in the Mediterranean states.

Yet, as the European firms and governments consider their vested interest, this structure has been exploited; thus avoidance of this and stimulation of the dialogue among the Euro-Mediterranean businessmen and the politicians would be constructive (Nienhaus, 2003).

In conclusion, most of the conducted research suggests that if the security complexes are seen as structures, the structural effects or changes determine the outcomes (Busman et al., 1998).  The structural/institutional problems in the EMP confirm why the EMP has not produced tangible results. Structural inconsistency is linked to the problem in distribution of power. These asymmetrical relations need to be set on a more balanced and symmetric basis. The institutions are crucial tools needed to constitute the actors and shape their identities. The EMP project with a more balanced and even structure can only realize an interactive contribution and build of common interest and conceptions, thus leading to the intended relaxation of security problems.



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ACRS:    Multilateral group on Arms Control and Regional Security within Middle East Peace Process

AMU:  Arab Maghreb Union

CFSP:    Common Foreign and Security Policy

CBMs:   Confidence Building Measures

CSBMs:  Confidence and Security Building Measures

CSCE:    Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (later OSCE)

CSCM:   Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean

EuroFor:  European Land Force

EuroMarFor:  European Maritime Security Force

EuroMeSCo:  Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission

EMP:     Euro-Mediterranean Partnership

ESDP:    European Security and Defense Policy

EU:     European Union

FDI:    Foreign Direct Investment

FTA:    Free Trade Area

IR:    International Relations

MEDA:  Mediterranean Development Aid (The principal financial instrument of the EU for the implementation of the EMP)

MENA:  Middle East and North Africa

MEPP:   Middle East Peace Process

MPCs:    Stands for the original 12 Mediterranean Partner Countries in the EMP

NATO:   North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NGOs:   Non-Governmental Organizations

NPT:     Non-Proliferation Treaty

OSCE:   Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

PBMs:    Partnership Building Measures

Strademed:  Strategie et Developement en Mediterranee

UMA:   Union of Arab Maghreb

UN:     United Nations

UNSC:   United Nations Security Council

WEU:     Western European Union

WMD:   Weapons of Mass Destruction

الشراكة الأوروبية – المتوسطية الأوجه السياسية والأمنية

من الأوجه المخادعة لإكمال الشراكة الأوروبية المتوسطية (EMP) ان للاتحاد الأوروبي الآن شراكة مع كل دولة كانت في الماضي جزءاً من الإمبراطورية الرومانية، باستثناء ليبيا، وما استولت عليه طروادة.

أما اساس الافتقار إلى الثقة بين دول (EMP)، فيعتمد على الإختلافات في التعريف والقدرة على الفهم التي تعتري السياسات  والتطلعات الأمنية.

وبالنسبة إلى النزاع في الشرق الأوسط لا تتماشى المفاهيم والتطلعات الأمنية في العالم العربي مع مفاهيم الإتحاد الأوروبي، إذ يفهم العرب دور أوروبا في النزاع في الشرق الأوسط كسياسية غير متوازنة لصالح إسرائيل، بينما ترى إسرائيل أن الأوروبيين غير مساندين لأسس إسرائيل. والفرق بين الثقافة الأمنية العربية والأخرى الأوروبية يقلِّص إمكان تحول التعاون الإقليمي إلى عقبة كبيرة أمام الشراكة الأوروبية المتوسطية.

وعلى الرغم من التطورات الإيجابية، هناك صعوبات حاسمة تمنع التقدم في هذه المسيرة. ويمكن تصنيف هذه المشاكل في ثلاث فئات رئيسية: انعدام تناسق مؤسسي، وقضايا التعريف والإدراك، وتدخل متعدد الطرف في المنطقة. وخلاصة، تفترض الأبحاث المحققة بمعظمها أنه، إذا اعتبرت التعقيدات الأمنية كبنى، فإن المفاعيل أو التغيرات البنيوية ستحدد النتائج. ومشروع الشراكة الأوروبية – المتوسطية، ببنية أكثر توازنًا واعتدالاً، يستطيع أن يحقق وحسب مساهمة تفاعلية وبناء مصالح ومفاهيم مشتركة، ويؤدي بذلك إلى الاسترخاء المقصود للمشاكل الأمنية.