AD HOC EURO-MEDITERRANEAN
OF FOREIGN MINISTERS
Palermo, 3-4 June 1998
1. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to make
a statement to inform you of the outcome of our meeting which has
just finished. I should emphasise that my statement is on my own
responsibility, as Chairman of the meeting, but I believe it represents
a fair summary of the meeting.
2. The meeting in Palermo was conceived as an
additional, ad hoc event, outside the normal cycle of the Ministerial
Conferences, in order to enable us to review the progress achieved
in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership since its historic launch
in Barcelona nearly 3 years ago, to give it renewed momentum and
to help prepare the ground for the next Ministerial Conference in
Stuttgart in April 1999.
3. We have had a very full, open and constructive
discussion over the past 24 hours, in which we have discussed all
three chapters of the Partnership. To summarise, we have:
• reaffirmed our commitment to the Partnership, to which
all Partners continue to attach the highest importance;
• reviewed the substantive results already achieved;
• improved our understanding of the reasons why progress
in some areas has been less rapid than in others;
• agreed on broad priorities for the year ahead;
• stressed our desire to work for a successful third Euro-Mediterranean
Ministerial Conference in Stuttgart in April 1999.
4. We had a full discussion of the relationship
between the Euro-Med Partnership and other initiatives undertaken
in the interests of peace, stability and development in the region,
in particular the Middle East Peace Process. The Barcelona Declaration
made clear that these processes should be regarded as complementary.
This, and the support Barcelona can give to the peace process, was
recognised by all. We all stood by our commitment at Barcelona to
support the realisation of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace
settlement in the Middle East based on faithful implementation of
the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the principles
of the Madrid Peace Conference, including the principle of land
for peace, which would bring justice and security to the people
of the region. Our discussions here in Palermo reflected a deepening
of the concern expressed at Valletta about the obstacles which block
the peace process, and particularly the non-implementation to date
of provisions in the Israeli/Palestinian Interim Agreement. Participants
emphasised that full implementation of commitments freely entered
into is vital if further progress is to be achieved, and agreed
that intensified action was required on all three of the negotiating
tracks, the Syrian and Lebanese as well as the Palestinian.
5. Many participants noted EU declarations issued
since Valletta, notably the Amsterdam and Luxembourg Declarations
and the conclusions of the General Affairs Council on 23 February
and 30 March. The enhanced EU role in the Peace Process was noted
6. In our further discussion of the political
and security chapter we welcomed the progress so far achieved in
developing Partnership Building Measures, including the project
on the management of natural and man-made disasters. While recognising
the constraints which currently exist, we agreed on the need to
develop and sustain these Measures, under this and other chapters.
We noted the continuing work on the issues of substance, including
the concept of global stability and the need to develop common perceptions
of the factors that contribute to it. This should contribute to
the development of a Charter for Peace and Stability as foreseen
in Barcelona. Senior Officials will take this forward by means of
a special ad hoc meeting, with the aim of making progress before
our meeting in Stuttgart.
7. On terrorism we recognised the serious threat
that this phenomenon poses to many of the objectives of the process
and the consequent need to strengthen our co-operation in preventing
it. We welcomed the decision to hold a special ad hoc meeting of
Senior Officials, accompanied by relevant experts, as a means of
developing a dialogue on this key issue.
8. We welcomed the continuing initiative in the
first chapter relating to international instruments in the human
rights field and the useful recent conference in the United Kingdom,
under the third chapter, involving officials, academics and NGOs.
We all reaffirmed our wish to see co-operation and dialogue in this
important field under the partnership further developed.
9. We had a full discussion of the Economic and
Financial Chapter of the Partnership, the “engine” of
the Euro-Med Partnership. We recognised that the creation of an
area of shared prosperity, as set out in Barcelona, involves 3 main
elements: the establishment of free trade, reforms towards economic
transition; and action to encourage private investment.
10. We recognised that a central element of achieving
the goal of establishing a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area by
2010 are the individual Association Agreements between the EU and
individual partner countries. Since the Valletta Conference the
first agreement - with Tunisia - has entered into force, and one
more - with Jordan - has been signed. The partner countries expressed
concern at the length of time for national ratification procedures
in the EU. We recognised the importance of a proper understanding
of the impact of economic transition and looked forward to the survey
on this subject which is being drawn up in preparation for the Stuttgart
Conference. We all hope for swift progress in the negotiations currently
underway - with Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Algeria. In this context
it was recognised that a mutually satisfactory compromise on agriculture
was required for concluding these negotiations. We emphasised the
importance of developing regional and sub-regional co-operation
and integration, including the need for progress on cumulation of
rules of origin.
11. In our discussions of the reform process linked
to economic transition we recognised that the modalities and pace
of this reform process vary; and that the process requires the continued
support of the EU. We welcomed the recent meeting organised by the
Commission which had helped improve understanding about the operation
of the MEDA programme. The important role of the partner countries
in the implementation of individual country programmes was noted.
Overall the programme is operating satisfactorily and we welcomed
the full commitment of the MEDA budget as evidence of its success.
The Commission has carefully noted individual concerns expressed.
We agreed the need to continue efforts to improve the implementation
of MEDA and welcomed the Commission’s wish to ensure a continued
close dialogue with the Mediterranean partners on all aspects of
12. We discussed investment. Private investment
will play a leading role in ensuring the success of the Partnership.
We recognised the importance of promoting investment flows, including
actions to create a favourable climate for investment. The various
instruments provided already by the Community were noted, as were
continuing initiatives in the Euro-Med framework, including follow-up
to the two useful meetings held in London. We all want to see this
sustained. The invaluable role of the EIB in supporting the development
of the region’s infrastructure and of the private and financial
sectors in the region was widely recognised.
13. We touched on debt. As was made clear in Barcelona,
negotiation on debt issues has to take place in the appropriate
fora, not within the Partnership. But with this understanding, we
all looked forward to the inclusion of debt as a topic of our continuing
dialogue on economic and financial issues.
14. We reviewed the concrete progress achieved
in several agreed priority sectors such as the short and medium
term action plan for the environment, the information system on
water, and the energy forum. We noted work in hand on the transfer
of technology. We all want the Industry Ministerial in Austria in
October to achieve further progress in the field of industrial co-operation.
15. In our discussion of the third chapter, covering
the partnership in social, cultural and human affairs, we recognised
that this chapter provides the opportunity to make the Euro-Med
process accessible the peoples of our countries. We want improved
visibility and awareness of the Partnership. We underlined the vital
contribution which civil society can play in the future development
of the Partnership. We welcomed the decision by the Commission to
relaunch decentralised co-operation programmes (MED Media, MED Campus,
MED Urbs). We welcomed the emerging parliamentary co-operation,
including the proposed inaugural meeting of the Parliamentary Forum
16. We welcomed the positive outcome of the recent
meeting in Stockholm on the dialogue between cultures and civilisations.
We recognised the desirability of consolidating cultural co-operation
in larger, framework programmes such as Euro-Med heritage and Euro-Med
audiovisual. We commended the outcome of the meeting in Luxembourg
on education. We reaffirmed our determination to work for a successful
Euro-Med Culture Ministerial in Greece in September.
17. We welcomed the decision to hold an experts’
meeting on migration and human exchanges as a means of developing
our dialogue on this important but sensitive subject. We also welcomed
the new initiative to promote an improved understanding of the roots
of violence in our society.
18. In conclusion therefore, I can say that we
have had a very useful and constructive meeting. I believe we have
made this important Euro-Med partnership and the valuable work it
is doing more accessible and visible to our peoples and to the world
in general. We have demonstrated our continued common commitment
to the partnership and our desire to take it forward in positive
and practical ways. In this way, we have laid the foundation for
the third Ministerial Conference in Stuttgart. We all want to make
that Conference a success.