Friday, 14 March 2008

The Barcelona Agreement

Come on now! Admit it! How many of you have heard of the Barcellona Agreement? Shame on you iof you missed the announcement! It has been quietly going about its business for more than a decade. However, it's not surprising if you missed the news about its formation. The European Union operates mainly in secret and behind closed doors and accepts its long term aims will take generations. Slow creeping growth often means its intrusion into more and more of our daily lives go unnoticed. The Barcelona Agreement began the process by which Cyprus and Malta became EU Member states and Turkey is a “Candidate Country” following close behind.

The “Barcelona Group” was set up at a Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs held in Barcelona on 27-28 November 1995. Formally known as the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership it is a wide framework of political, economic and social relations between the Member States of the European Union and Partners of the “Southern Mediterranean”. Originally 12 countries were included. Two (Cyprus and Malta)are now EU Members and one (Turkey) is a “Candidate” Country undergoing negotiations to join. On this basis it must be a reasonable bet that the European Union will ultimately expand to include the other Barcelona Group Members. This will bring Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Syria and Tunisia into the European Union at some point. Libya has had observer status since 1999 so it too must be on the eventual membership list.

I remember the first time North African and Middle East Countries appeared on the Eurovision Song Contest. Several people asked then how long Israel (for example) had been in Europe. The answer is obviously since the Barcelona Agreement in 1995.

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