Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone, du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010


The Union for the Mediterranean: Reflecting or Responding to a Crisis in Euro-Mediterranean Relations? (351) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED institution: University of Liverpool (United Kingdom)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Richard Gillespie

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:

The Union for the Mediterranean was launched in 2008 with the formal aim of enhancing the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership created in 1995. Despite the clear intention of starting a new, more ambitious phase in Euro-Mediterranean relations, the UfM has had an inauspicious start, its meetings disrupted first by Israeli objections to the upgrading of the Arab League’s participation and then by a prolonged Arab boycott of meetings in protest at the invasion of Gaza and the politics of the new Netanyahu government. To judge by media coverage, it would seem that French hopes of creating a less politicized framework of cooperation through giving the UfM a substantial functionalist content have been misfounded and that the Partnership is today much more vulnerable to fallout from the Middle East than it was earlier during the period of the Barcelona Process. An alternative view is that a lot activity has been taking place behind the scenes to plan and develop some of the major new technical projects approved at the Paris summit in 2008 and that these might in fact lead to enhanced (and possibly reconfigurated) sub-regional cooperation in the coming years, especially in view of the European Union’s growing concerns about energy security. The papers in this panel will examine the evidence to see whether, in the light of the growing complexity of the Middle East conflict, the UfM experience to date reveals any new departures in Euro-Israeli and Euro-Arab relations. One hypothesis is that the absence of significant steps in terms of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking is bringing a greater element of political dispute into Euro-Israeli relations. An alternative one is that, with multilateral peace moves paralysed, the EU is largely concentrating on a reduced number of bilateral relations with Mediterranean states (including Israel) that genuinely wish to integrate with Europe, at least at the economic level. In the case of the Arab countries, the big research question is why the boycott of UfM meetings lasted so long. The panel will also focus on some of the technical projects launched under the UfM and consider their potential to enhance Euro-Mediterranean cooperation or to lead to new strategic partnerships at a sub-regional level.

Chair: : Tobias Schumacher(Lisbon University Institute)
Discussant: : Annette Jünemann (Helmut-Schmidt-University, Germany)

Paper presenter: Oliver Schlumberger (University of Tübingen) “Continuity and Change in Euro-Arab Relations”
This contribution sheds a rather pessimistic light on the future prospects of the UfM based on reflections on the role the EU seems to view for the Arab countries in its new framing of Euro-Mediterranean relations. While at first glance, the new Union seems to have created new potential for a possibly more active role of the Arab countries to become more actively and more equitably involved in common projects rather than remain mere ‘takers’, the departure from the Barcelona Process is more in procedures and organization than in content. Key issues that prevent significant steps for more sustainable and equitable human development in the non-oil Arab countries and which had hampered the success of the Barcelona Process still continue to flaw Euro-Mediterranean relations within the new framework insofar as governance issues continue to remain addressed in only marginal ways.

Paper presenter: Richard Gillespie(University of Liverpool) “A New Arab Politics in the Euro-Mediterranean Context?”
The behaviour of the Arab Group in the context of Euro-Mediterranean relations may be changing or simply becoming more visible under the influence of the new structures and procedures brought by the Union for the Mediterranean. Contrary to French expectations, the UfM to date has been even more overshadowed by the Arab-Israeli conflict than the Barcelona Process ever was. The paper will examine the dispute over the inclusion of the Arab League in the UfM and the prolonged boycott of high-level meetings by the Arab participants in 2009, which led to whole initiative becoming stalled. It will be argued that the boycott is to be explained not only as a means of combating Israeli intransigence over the Palestinian Question but also as a result of the Arab Group’s internal tensions Plus ça change? Israel and the EU’s ‘Union for the Mediterranean’

Paper presenter: Raffaella A. Del Sarto (St Antony's College, Oxford) “Plus ça change?? Israel and the EU’s Union for the Mediterranean”
Over the last two decades, a number of patterns have been characterizing relations between Israel and the European Community/Union. Firstly, there is a gap between repeatedly strained political ties and well-developed, and in fact constantly deepening, economic relations. As political disagreements tend to be voiced in public, there is, secondly, a noticeable difference between the practice of bilateral relations and the rhetorical level. Thirdly, strained political relations between both sides are usually related to the question of how to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, whereby right-wing governments in Jerusalem are more likely to clash with Brussels over regional politics. Finally, the EU has repeatedly sought to link its bilateral ties to Israel to the issue of Middle East peacemaking. Conversely, Israel’s constant preference has been to disconnect both tracks and to aim at a ‘special relationship’ with the EU. The paper analyzes the impact of the UfM initiative on EU-Israeli relations by paying particular attention to the preferences and strategies of each side.

Paper presenter:Hakim Darbouche (Institute for Energy Studies, Oxford)“Third Time Lucky? Prospects for Euro-Mediterranean Energy Cooperation within the Framework of the UfM”
Energy cooperation has appeared on the EU’s Mediterranean policy agenda as a priority since the promulgation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP). The Barcelona Declaration recognised the strategic importance of energy for the envisaged economic partnership with southern Mediterranean countries SMCs) and encouraged the institutionalisation of energy dialogue in the region. However, the resulting Euro-Mediterranean Energy Forum has yielded conspicuously limited results, as has the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The UfM has pledged to go further in the area of energy cooperation, and has identified solar energy as a possible catalyst. This paper will assess the prospects for Euro-Mediterranean energy cooperation in the context of the UfM in the short- to medium-term. It will be argued that the prospects hinge more on the shifting priorities of European consumers and SMC producers’ mainly in terms of environmental pressure, diversification of supplies and the ‘after-oil’ imperatives ? than on the attributes of the UfM per se. Note: this panel is a closed one, but we would willingly consider making it a double panel if there is a sufficient number of additional individual papers proposed on the Union for the Mediterranean.