Speech by Mr Jacques CHIRAC, President of the French Republic, on the occasion of the Euro-Mediterranean Summit (Barcelona).



Dear Prime Minister, dear Tony,
Dear Prime Minister of Spain, dear José Luis,
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

In ten years, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the only forum that brings together all Mediterranean coastal States, has won its legitimacy. A common area has been created, in which a great many human, economic and cultural exchanges are taking place. A security and defence dialogue is being conducted there. The Association Agreements concluded there have helped initiate regional integration. Substantial financial resources have been implemented.

The Barcelona Process has gained its legitimacy through its own, specific approach: it is a partnership based on equality and ongoing dialogue; and a major mobilizing project that creates synergy between its political, economic and cultural components, to support the dynamic of cooperation and reform.

Today, new emergency situations have to be addressed.

Both shores of the Mediterranean aspire to increased security, particularly in terms of counter-terrorism. The code of conduct we are about to adopt will confirm our common commitment to combat barbaric practices that pervert the causes they claim to serve. Combating terrorism, while respecting human rights and the rule of law, brings us together and should lead us to strengthen our police and judicial cooperation instruments.

The two shores of the Mediterranean aspire to more growth. The free trade area towards which we are working is an ambitious, yet insufficient project. We need to promote investment, improve the business environment, foster training, support research programmes and develop initiatives for strengthening South-South cooperation, such as the Agadir Agreement whose impending entry into force I welcome. This is how we will succeed, ultimately, in giving its full dimension to the Euro-Mediterranean economic community we are seeking.

We must tackle the issue of migration in the same spirit of shared responsibility. It calls for comprehensive and balanced cooperation with our partners on the African continent. Together with Spain and Morocco, we have put forward proposals to strengthen our cooperation on migration, social integration, justice and security.

Both shores of the Mediterranean aspire to more democracy and enhanced governance. This is what peoples are calling for, and the spirit of the times, the ambition of reforming governments. Collective commitments must be made, whose importance justifies marshalling additional resources. This is the purpose of the financial facility to be created by Europe. The facility will be the instrument for an ambitious partnership with the countries of the Mediterranean's southern shore, at the service of human rights, governance and the rule of law.
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The Mediterranean must remain a strategic priority for Europe. This Summit is giving those who are concerned about the equilibrium of Europe's policies between East and South the opportunity to confirm our options: the pursuit of European commitments for the Mediterranean area must be ensured.

We should first introduce better reciprocity in relations between both shores of the Mediterranean by implementing, for instance, Structural Fund-based forms of cooperation in fields such as higher education, water, and migration.

We must show more effectiveness and introduce the European concept of enhanced cooperation into our Partnership so as to enable the more interested countries to forge ahead.

Finally, we must preserve the specificity and autonomy of the European approach, which does not prevent consultation between the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the other initiatives launched in the region.

Our Partnership will become fully meaningful as one of the forums for dialogue and cooperation designed to address problems that have halted progress. The Union should become further involved in the search for a peace settlement in the Middle East.

What instruments for renewed ambition?

The institutional issue must now be considered: reviving the Partnership could warrant exploring new avenues such as the establishment of a joint policy secretariat or a strengthened mechanism for political dialogue at the level of foreign ministers.

We should also give due consideration to our financial instruments: not only in order to maintain the Union's commitments - i.e. by devoting no less than two-thirds of resources from the new neighbourhood instrument to Mediterranean cooperation, but also to marshal additional resources, in particular for cooperation on migration. Ultimately, it will be necessary to establish a Mediterranean Development Bank. To begin with, it could take the form of an EIB subsidiary structure open to public and private capital from the South.

I advocate strengthening the dialogue with civil society, particularly with businesses and NGOs. The Luxembourg meeting last April helped launch the new Forum. We should ensure that is has resources in keeping with its importance. Let us organize, with the Forum, conferences bringing together the civil societies of Euro-Mediterranean countries. France is willing to host the first conference. It would also like us to take our cultural dialogue further and invites Euro-Mediterranean partners to take part in 2006 in a "Mediterranean cultural workshop" that will gather artists, thinkers and policy-makers from our countries.

The Declaration and the Action Plan we are going to adopt will mark the revival of our Partnership. I suggest devoting the next Ministerial Meeting to, inter alia, the review of the institutional and financial proposals I have just outlined.

Thank you.

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