Morocco - Union for the Mediterranean/ The Barcelona Process: A Path Marked by Paradoxes (FM Mr. Nasser Bourita)
‘’Over the past 25 years, the path of the Barcelona process has been marked by economic, political, human and governance paradoxes which made that the goal of building an area of stability and shared prosperity in the Mediterranean ‘’has not yet been fully fulfilled,’’ said, on Friday, November 27, 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, M. Nasser Bourita.
Speaking at the 5th Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), on Friday, November 27, 2020, Mr Bourita observed that, in 1995, the countries of the Mediterranean region were enthusiastic about this "area of stability and shared prosperity (...) 25 years later, it is clear that it has not yet been fully fulfilled."
"Not that the Barcelona Process has failed. But along the way, it has taken as many steps forward as backward," Bourita said at the event held on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Barcelona Process.
Morocco’s FM stressed the importance of making a lucid assessment of the Barcelona Process and above all to map out a workable path.
On the economic paradox, Mr Bourita said that the Euromed has succeeded in making the Mediterranean a market of nearly 800 million consumers where the volume of trade has multiplied in 25 years, but economic integration is still not there. "90% of trade is within the EU, against only 9% between North and South," he deplored.
For Morocco’s FM, free trade agreements have benefited countries in the North and South, but instead of bridging the gap with the North, they have paradoxically contributed to making it wider.
In 2008, the trade deficit between the South and the EU amounted to €7 billion. Ten years later it peaked at more than €70 billion, Bourita underlined.
The Mediterranean still draws a dividing line rather than a bridge, he noted, pointing at the fact that the wealth gap between the North and the South is 4 times greater in 2020 than it was in 1995.
Co-development is therefore a cardinal issue. The North-South development differential can no longer remain a sad observation. It must be the leitmotiv for a "Mediterranean policy of cohesion." the Minister stressed.
According to Mr Bourita, a dedicated financial instrument is essential as it would foster greater appropriation. "Let’s call it a Bank, a Fund or a Compact - it doesn’t matter - as long as it is used to develop infrastructures and to make the Euro-Mediterranean area evolve from a "market" model to a "productive" model built on complementarity," he recommended.
On the political paradox, Bourita said that the Barcelona Process has institutionalized a two-stage political dialogue: a bilateral stage within the framework of the Associations, and a regional one within the framework of the UfM.
In that regard, he deplored the fact that the countries of the region have not done "much" with this formidable instrument. "We first over-politicized it! just before "depoliticizing" it, even if it meant reducing the Euromed to its simplest technical expression," Bourita said.
Turning to the human paradox, the minister called for reinventing "Social, Cultural and Human Partnership", stressing that of all the pillars of the Barcelona Process, this aspect is the one most likely to win the hearts of citizens.
In that regard, the FM called for going beyond the logic of containment, and for returning to the goal of rapprochement and understanding between peoples, which is enshrined in the Barcelona Declaration.
Regarding governance, Mr Bourita said that the Barcelona Process is designed for the South and increasingly led by the North. The responsibility of the South is also to participate more actively, including in the financing of the UfM, he said, noting that Barcelona cannot remain a process solely in the hands of the European Commission.
Morocco’s top diplomat pointed out that the Kingdom takes its share of responsibility and the contribution that goes with it as it participates in the functioning of the UfM Secretariat and the activities of the UfM.
"The more we invest, the less likely we are to leave the structures of the UfM at the political level", Mr. Bourita concluded.