Sarkozy's Union for the Mediterranean gets a new name
(dpa) - In typical compromising fashion, European Union leaders Friday formally backed ambitious French plans for a Union for the Mediterranean, but watered it down to such an extent that it had to be given a new name.
According to a last-minute addition to the draft conclusions of their regular spring council in Brussels, the new organization is to be called "Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean."
The Barcelona process is the name of the EU's 13-year-old policy which deals with the bloc's southern neighbours and which many critics say has so far failed to deliver.
The original "Club Med," as first conceived a year ago by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, envisaged uniting Israelis and Syrians, Turks and Spaniards, Italians and Libyans, and making them work together on such diverse issues as migration, the environment or the fight against terrorism.
But the latest draft of the proposal, brokered by Germany earlier this week and submitted to leaders over dinner on Thursday, includes all of the EU's member states and vaguely talks about "projects with an accent on regional cooperation."
The downsizing came after EU countries with no borders on the Mediterranean expressed scepticism at the proposal, with member states from Eastern Europe particularly concerned that it would divert precious EU funds away from their region.
In Friday's draft conclusions, the EU executive, the European Commission, "is invited to present to the Council (of EU leaders) the necessary proposals for defining the modalities of what will be called 'Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean'" in view of a special summit to be convened in Paris on July 13.
Sarkozy nevertheless welcomed the compromise, pointing out that the new organization will for the first time give a strong voice to Middle Eastern and North African leaders in the way money in the region is spent.
He noted that the new political structure will be co-chaired by an EU member and a non-EU member.
"Europe will not turn its back on the Mediterranean any more," Sarkozy said late Thursday.