Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2008

The Union for the Mediterranean Initiative

Roberto Aliboni

April 2008

Istituto Affari Internazionali


1. The setting

French President Sarkozy's agenda to promote a Mediterranean Union has raised a lively debate in the European Union and among the Southern Mediterranean EU partners. This debate has revealed an inclination on the part of France's proposal to evolve and change.

In fact, it started out as a Union of the Mediterranean or Mediterranean Union, including the riparian countries only and excluding non­Mediterranean EU members. Then, in Rome, on December 20, 2007, the mini­summit between the heads of state and government of France, Italy and Spain adopted the ''Appel de Rome'', in which the initiative was turned into a Union for the Mediterranean (UFM), excluding the membership but making room for some form of participation of the Commission and, eventually, non­Mediterranean EU countries eager to play a role towards the area. Thereafter, at the March 3, 2008 meeting in Hanover between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Sarkozy, it was decided that the EU members would not be divided into Mediterranean and non­Mediterranean and given different roles with respect to the Union for the Mediterranean. ''It will be'' in the words of Chancellor Merkel ''a project of the 27 member states of the [European] Union''.