The Mediterranean is one of the priorities of Spanish foreign policy. Its stability and prosperity affect us and the European Union. We do not merely maintain a neighbourhood relationship with the countries on its southern shore, but rather a relationship of interdependence.
The region has undergone profound changes that make it an increasingly complex and fragmented area. In addition, new players and challenges are emerging, such as immigration, security threats, the evolution towards stable and inclusive democracies and the improvement of the economic situation.
The minister takes part in the 6th Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), held in Barcelona in December 2021. Photo: NOLSOM - MAUC
Spain participates actively in regional initiatives such as the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), a multilateral association to which 43 countries belong, including all the countries of the European Union, the Mediterranean Arab countries and Israel. It was created in 2008 as the heir to and continuation of the Barcelona Process, with the aim of turning the Mediterranean region into a common area of peace, stability, prosperity and security, by intensifying political dialogue and establishing an area of economic and financial cooperation, as well as a social, cultural and human partnership. The UfM holds ministerial meetings (of foreign and sectoral ministers) and technical meetings and sponsors specific projects with a direct impact on the population in areas such as inclusive growth, youth, water, the environment, women and development, among others. The UfM General Secretariat is based in Barcelona.
Cooperation between the countries of the western Mediterranean basin is the basis of the so-called "5+5 Dialogue", which comprises Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Malta, on the European side ,and the five Maghreb countries, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Tunisia. It was established in 1990 under this name or "Western Mediterranean Forum" for enhanced cooperation between the two banks of the Mediterranean and consists of a series of ministerial meetings which have proved to be very useful in practical terms. By way of example, in March 2015, at the first ministerial meeting on water, the Water Strategy for the Western Mediterranean was approved, an initiative of Spain and Algeria.
Group photo of participants at the 6th meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM)). Barcelona, December 2021. Photo: NOLSOM – MAUC
In addition, since 1994, the countries of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have invited the Mediterranean Partners for Cooperation to participate in the organisation's own activities and to intensify the dialogue. This initiative includes Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. The aim is to maintain security in the OSCE region and the southern Mediterranean through dialogue, the adoption of common standards and commitments, cooperation in the OSCE's areas of activity and the transfer of OSCE expertise.
Furthermore, the so-called NATO Mediterranean Dialogue was launched in 1994, promoted by Spain. It brings together seven non-member countries of the strategic alliance in the Mediterranean region-Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia-and its main aim is to consolidate security in Europe, which is closely linked to the security and stability of the Mediterranean.
Another framework for cooperation between these regions is the OECD's MENA (Middle East and North African Countries) Programme, which gives priority to the development and creation of a favourable climate for entrepreneurship and economic growth in both directions. Launched at the end of 2004, the MENA Programme is the first in which the OECD has carried out its activities with Arab countries.