Northern European perceptions of the Barcelona Process

Fecha de publicación:
Richard Gillespie

The positions adopted by northern member-states of the European Union in relation to the Euro-Mediterranean Global Partnership have attracted little interest to date. Entirely justifiably, more attention has been paid to the ‘motors’ of the Barcelona process, Spain and France, while a lot of discussion has focused more generally (and often at an excessive level of generality) on the obstacles to, and prospects for, an effective north-south partnership across the Mediterranean. Yet the northern Europeans’ positions, when they exist, clearly need to be taken into account by those who are committed to the Partnership. For while the process has been joined relatively late by the north, and with numerous reservations, the northern states are today effective partners in the Euro-Med process, with the same rights and at least as much influence as the Mediterranean countries themselves. For whatever happens in the way of future EU enlargement, geography dictates that the Union will remain ‘essentially a northern-central European entity’ in which Mediterranean states are a minority (Pace, 1996: 110), and this is a reality that the Barcelona process cannot escape from, given the role of the EU as its initiator. No doubt, some of the southern European states will continue to make the running, as they have until now, but crucial decisions affecting EU Mediterranean policy will continue to need northern European support; in addition, it is the north that can also play a decisive role in promoting interest in the southern Mediterranean in the world of private capital.