The European Council has approved a series of conclusions that underline the determination of the European Union to renew and consolidate its strategic cooperation with the countries of the Southern Shore of the Mediterranean. The aim is to face together common challenges, to take advantage of shared opportunities and to release the region’s economic potential for the benefit of its population.
To stimulate a long-term and sustainable socio-economic recovery and the creation of employment on the southern shores of the Mediterranean is a joint priority and forms the innovative cornerstone of this new Mediterranean agenda. By working together, the EU and its partners on the Southern Shore can turn climatic and environmental challenges and digital transformation into great opportunities for sustainable development, contributing to a green transition that is both fair and inclusive. The EU will use all the instruments at its disposal, including the NDICI-Global Europe initiative and the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+), and will collaborate with financial institutions to achieve this objective, paying special attention to the human dimension and to creating opportunities for young people.
Good governance, the promotion and protection of human rights and basic freedoms, democratic institutions and the rule of law are also considered as essential for long-term stability, security and the sustainable development of the region. The EU will intensify its commitment to these issues and will renew its efforts in terms both of the prevention and resolution of conflicts, and of cooperation concerning questions of security, migration and the degree of preparation and capacity of response of countries’ national health systems.
The EU intends to strengthen political dialogue throughout the Mediterranean by establishing annual meetings of the foreign affairs ministers of the EU Member States and those of the partner countries of the Southern Shore, with a view to monitoring progress in the implementation of the new Mediterranean agenda.
The main conclusions reached included the following:
1. A Southern Shore that is democratic, more stable, more ecologically aware and more prosperous is a shared strategic priority and essential interest both for the EU and for its Southern Shore partners. Global and regional challenges have increased and have highlighted our interdependence. It is only through strong action in a spirit of collaboration and co-ownership that we will be able to meet the objectives first set 25 years ago in Barcelona in order to bring peace, stability and prosperity for the people of the Mediterranean region.
2. Remembering the conclusions of the European Council’s December 2020 meeting and the European Council members’ declaration of 26 February 2021, the Council reaffirms its determination to renew and consolidate even further the EU’s strategic cooperation with its Southern Shore partners in order to face our common challenges, to take advantage of our shared opportunities and to release the full potential of our shared region. It undertakes to do so in conjunction with its partner countries, on the basis of the joint deliberations with our Southern Shore neighbours launched at the EU-Southern Neighbourhood ministerial meeting held in Barcelona on 26 November 2020.
3. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact both on the EU and on its Southern Shore neighbours, with negative implications in terms of both health and citizens’ means of subsistence. The Mediterranean region is also recognised as one of the main hotspots with regard to climate change, being already seriously affected by accelerating desertification, the shortage of water and the rise in temperatures. These crises have shown the growing interdependence of the Mediterranean region and have highlighted the need to reinforce our shared resilience and open up new routes towards increased cooperation. Together with the new opportunities represented by the ecological and digital transitions, this opens up new opportunities to develop a positive agenda for our partnership.