Sede de la Liga Árabe en El Cairo. FOTO EFE
Southern dimension of the ENP

In contrast to what happened in the East, where the Eastern Partnership has been set up, the projection of the ENP towards the South lacks its own forum for regional dialogue. Strictly speaking, the Union for the Mediterranean does not form part of the ENP, but rather is an international organisation with its own legal personality. However, given that the UfM seeks to improve multilateral relations between the EU and its Mediterranean partners, it also serves as a de facto forum through which to develop cooperation and regional dialogue with the Southern Neighbourhood.

Bilateral relations with the Southern partners are highly heterogeneous: while Jordan and Morocco have been granted an “Advanced Status” and Tunisia enjoys a “Privileged Partnership”, countries such as Libya and Syria have not even signed a Partnership Agreement that frames their relations with the EU. Furthermore, Morocco and Tunisia have already started to negotiate the creation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) similar to those that exist in the east.


On another note, in 2014 Lebanon renewed its Action Plan to adapt it to the new realities and the intention is to renew the Action Plan with Egypt shortly, while negotiations continue for an Action Plan with Algeria. Finally, Israel and Palestine have sui generis relations with the EU, particularly focused on the complex situation of the Middle East Peace Process.


Spain plays a very active role in relation to the Southern Neighbourhood. In this regard it should be recalled that it successfully hosted the Informal Ministerial Meeting with its Southern Partners, held in Barcelona on 13 April 2015, with the aim of offering our neighbours a forum to express their concerns and perspectives on the ENP, as well as to deal with other issues of mutual interest and shared challenges. This meeting, the first in seven years, was attended by 22 EU ministers and seven ministers from the Southern Neighbourhood, together with the High Representative and the Commissioner for the Neighbourhood Policy, thus demonstrating the EU’s commitment to the southern shore of the Mediterranean and Spain’s leadership in these issues.

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