Euromed Trade Press Pack

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Prosperity for all – towards a genuine Mediterranean free trade area
Creating an area of shared prosperity in the Mediterranean has long been a goal of the EU. There has always been wide acceptance however that shared prosperity can only be realised if sustainable and balanced economic development, fulfilling employment and greater regional cooperation and integration, are first achieved. The progressive establishment of a free trade area has been seen as a crucial tool in realising this.
A significant amount has already been achieved, with the EU now firmly established as the main trading partner for many Mediterranean countries. Between 2004 and 2008 for example, Mediterranean exports to the EU increased by 11% a year, while Mediterranean imports from the EU increased by 8% a year. And with Mediterranean partners accounting for only 5% of overall EU trade in services, there remains huge potential.
The 9th Union for the Mediterranean Trade Ministerial Conference
Capitalising on this potential will feature prominently at the 9th Union for the Mediterranean Trade Ministerial Conference, taking place on 11 November in Brussels. Ministers will also discuss joint working priorities for 2011, including actions to complete the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area and to boost Euro-Mediterranean trade and investment flows. In particular, Ministers will discuss the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean Trade and Investment Facilitation mechanism and ways to enhance regional cooperation on fight against piracy and counterfeiting.
Getting to this point has been a long and often difficult process. Much, however, has been achieved in a relatively short space of time. 
The Barcelona Process
The concept of a Mediterranean free trade area first found concrete expression in the 1995 Barcelona Declaration. This Declaration set in motion the so-called Barcelona Process, a drive towards establishing a common area of peace, stability, and shared prosperity in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Since then, the strengthening of trade relations among Southern Mediterranean countries has continued:
  • The Agadir Agreement between Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt, in force since 2007, remains open to other Arab Mediterranean countries;
  • Israel and Jordan have signed a Free Trade Agreement;
  • Egypt, Israel, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Syria and Tunisia have signed bilateral agreements with Turkey.
The launch of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in 2004 moved this process of economic integration even further forward. Developed following EU enlargement, the ENP aimed to achieve a full regional free trade area by 2010. The ENP aimed to establish:
  • A network of North-South and South-South FTAs;
  • Enhanced economic integration beyond trade liberalisation, i.e. creating a common regulatory platform amongst Euromed partners;
  • Instruments, such as Euromed Association Agreements and ENP Action Plans;
  • Yearly Trade Ministerial meetings.
The Barcelona Process was again revamped with the creation of the 'Union for the Mediterranean' in 2008. The Union for the Mediterranean is now the main regional forum, with bilateral EU-Southern Mediterranean relations managed mainly through Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements. With the exception of Syria, every Mediterranean country belonging to the Euro-Mediterranean partnership (now integrated in the Union for the Mediterranean) has concluded Association Agreements with the EU.
Through the Association Agreements:
  • Duty-free access to the EU for Med industrial products and around 80% of agricultural produce
  • Progressive dismantling of industrial tariffs by Med countries and some preferences on agricultural produce (not fully reciprocating EU’s)
Looking to the future
The ‘Euro-Mediterranean Trade Roadmap beyond 2010’ was endorsed at the 8th Union for the Mediterranean Trade Ministerial Conference in December 2009 in Brussels. The main objectives of the roadmap are to:
  • Complete and reinforce the network of Free Trade Agreements in the Euro-Mediterranean Region (North-South and South-South);
  • Implement concrete initiatives to bring the Euro-Mediterranean trade partnership closer to the business;
  • Turn the Association Agreements and South-South Agreements into a deep and comprehensive Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area.
“The Roadmap should be a dynamic work programme for the years to come,” said the 2009 Conference Conclusions. “Ministers have agreed that the Senior Officials Working Group should meet in principle twice a year to monitor the implementation of the Roadmap and propose any necessary adaptation or modification to the Euro- Mediterranean Trade Ministers for decision.”
The Mediterranean region is now one of the EU’s most important trading partners
  • EU exports to the Southern Mediterranean region in 2009: €119 billion
  • EU imports from the Southern Mediterranean region in 2009: €105 billion
  • EU total trade with the Southern Mediterranean countries was €224 billion in 2009 - some 10% of total EU external trade
Regional projects working towards a key objective
The EU is convinced that international trade is part of the path to sustained economic growth and development, the EuropeAid Cooperation Office notes on the Trade section of its website. With the objective of a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area a key objective set out at the Barcelona Summit in November 2005, EuropeAid’s Regional Programme, funded through the ENP’s financial mechanism, the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), supports a number of projects and initiatives that contribute to this end.
Agadir Agreement – EU support project (phase II)
The project aims to contribute to progress in the realisation of a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area and promote economic integration between countries in the region, through consolidating the institutional framework set up under the Agadir Agreement, signed by Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, and works to identify the potential for, and removing constraints on, expanded intra-regional trade.
The Agadir Agreement seeks to promote faster economic integration and cooperation between these four countries, reinforcing south-south cooperation. It contributes to the on-going process of economic liberalisation throughout the Mediterranean region, and supports the Euro-Med Partnership’s goal of creating a regional Free Trade Area.
Timeframe: 2008 - 2012
Budget: €4 million
EuropeAid case study
Invest in Med
A Euro-Mediterranean Network of organisations committed to investment promotion and trade facilitation, strengthening SME collaboration and exchange of best-practices. It aims at developing sustainable trade relationships, investments and enterprise partnerships between the two rims of the Mediterranean.
Invest in Med aims to increase the abilities and efficiency of Mediterranean Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs), thus enabling more foreign direct investment in the Mediterranean Partner Countries. This multi-country platform supports the economic development of the Mediterranean and reinforces cooperation between European and Mediterranean IPAs. Its activities cover three areas: Institutional support, the creation of a network, and promotion of regional investment.
Timeframe: 2008 - 2011
Budget: €9 million
Support to FEMIP
‘Support to FEMIP’ is a funding envelope of €32 million per year from the Community Budget, which contributes to the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). FEMIP was set up in 2002 by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and has various sources of funding, such as the EIB's own resources, as well as the FEMIP Trust Fund to which the European Commission contributes. FEMIP places emphasis on helping to foster private sector activity in the region as a way to underpin growth and generate employment opportunities. Financial support is directed towards private sector projects and also to public projects that help to create an enabling environment for the private sector to flourish.
Timeframe: 2007 - 2013
Budget: €32 million per year
Website (FEMIP) –
FEMISE – Socio-economic research
The project aims to contribute to the reinforcement of dialogue on economic and financial issues in the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Union for the Mediterranean. More specifically, it seeks to improve understanding of the priority stakes in the economic and social spheres, and their repercussions on the Mediterranean partners in the framework of their implementation of EU Association Agreements and Action Plans.
The project consolidates the FEMISE network of research institutes capable of North-South and South-South interactions, while within the network, it sets into motion a transfer of know-how and knowledge between members. The project also conducts studies, which examine the progress achieved by the Mediterranean partner countries in opening up and reforming their economies and preparing for potential challenges that lie ahead; it also produces specific tools to develop policies aimed at the economic transition process in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Timeframe: 2005 - 2012
Budget: €4.9 million (2005-2009 MEDA) €4 million (end 2009-end 2012 ENPI)
MEDSTAT III - Statistical cooperation
The project seeks to promote evidence-based policy-making and foster democratic development by using statistical data. MEDSTAT III will provide more and better data in six priority thematic sectors – agriculture, energy, migration, social statistics, transport, trade and balance of payments – and will promote the increased use of this data.
Timeframe: 2010 - 2011
Budget: €4 million
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is also providing support to the economic development and the integration of Southern Mediterranean partner countries. The creation in 2002 of the facility for Euro-Mediterranean investment and partnership (FEMIP) boosted the EIB's activities in the Mediterranean. FEMIP is now a key player in the financial partnership between Europe and the Southern Mediterranean region and has invested €10 billion between October 2002 and December 2009.
Spotlight: Export help and information
The European Union, the world's largest single market, is a vitally important trading partner for its Neighbourhood partners. While trade arrangements provide preferential access to this market, some highly technical requirements must still be fulfilled. Information on such requirements is therefore crucial if exporters are to take full advantage of the opportunities available.
Export Helpdesk -
The Export Helpdesk was established in 2004 exactly for this purpose. This free and user-friendly service provides relevant information required by exporters interested in supplying the EU market. The service is an online database that allows anyone to search for detailed information on specific products they might want to export to Europe.
It is currently available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. The help desk will be launched in Arabic on the occasion of the 9th Union for the Mediterranean Trade Ministerial Conference on 11 November 2010.
The Helpdesk also offers the following information:
  • Import tariffs and other import measures, to help exporters determine exactly what costs might apply to them.
  • EU preferential import regimes benefiting developing countries. Many countries have a preferential trade arrangement with the EU that allows them to export largely free of tariffs or quotas.
  • Trade data for the EU and its individual Member States. The Helpdesk also provides statistics on trade between the European Union and the rest of the world.
  • Links to stakeholders in trade promotion such as chambers of commerce, trade associations and business directories.
  • The possibility to lodge detailed information requests about real-life situations encountered by exporters.
  • A ‘What's New’ section to host newsletters.
The service aims to be as helpful and informative as possible. To this end, there is a user guide in each section, a step-by-step overview of a sample search, also available in Arabic, as well as a detailed desktop presentation.
The Export Helpdesk is single point of access that demonstrates the EU's commitment to putting trade at the service of development not only in theory, but in practice.
Useful links
Websites and documents
DG Trade: EuroMed webpage
DG Trade: EuroMed trade presentation, May 2010 –
8th EuroMed Trade Ministerial Conference, December 2009
Conclusions of the conference –
Trade statistics for EuroMed countries:
Occupied Palestinian territory
ENPI Info Centre economy webpage –
Regional Projects
Agadir Agreement – EU support project (phase II)
Invest in Med –
Support to FEMIP –
FEMISE – Socio-economic research
MEDSTAT III - Statistical cooperation –
EuroMediterranean statistics 2009 (Eurostat)
Atlas of investments and partnerships in the Mediterranean (Invest in Med)
Investments and Partnership in the Med Region in 2009 (Invest in Med)
Boosting business in the Mediterranean – Entrepreneurs’ success stories (EIB/EC/Invest in Med)
Egypt, biggest beneficiary of the Agadir Agreement (Eurojar)


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