The EU reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen its strategic relationship with its Southern Neighbourhood partners during the EU-Southern Neighbourhood Ministerial Meeting chaired by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, with participation of Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement. The meeting was hosted by Arancha González, Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain.
During this meeting, the EU officially kicked off the reflection process on the EU-Southern Neighbourhood partnership to ensure it better responds to today’s challenges and opportunities, a process which will culminate with the adoption of the “Joint Communication on a renewed partnership for the Southern Neighbourhood” foreseen for the first quarter of 2021.
High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell commented:
“Our commitment to an ambitious partnership is greater than ever. Together we are stronger. Building common solutions is the only way to transform our challenges into opportunities. This joint reflection will help us build together a better, fairer and greener Euro-Mediterranean, fit for the new connected world of the 21st century.”
Ministers exchanged views on how to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to foster more stability, security and prosperity for all, create more jobs and promote sustainable development. They noted that EU priorities such as the green and digital transformation, the importance of diversified, shorter value chains and the focus on inclusive sustainable growth offer new opportunities for cooperation. They also discussed the need to stimulate private investment and advance economic and governance reforms.
Other issues discussed included joint migration management and mobility as well as opportunities to reinforce the fight against terrorism, new security threats and organised crime through more regional and sub-regional cooperation.
The EU will develop its new Communication taking into account its partners’ needs, the EU values and priorities, and changing strategic perspectives, in order to promote a positive agenda, foster sustainable, inclusive recovery and development, and improve the region’s common resilience.
A consultation with stakeholders, including partner countries, civil society, the private sector and other interested parties, will be carried out in parallel to that effect.
The major socio-economic shocks brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have compounded long-existing political, economic, social, and security challenges. At the same time, the crisis has opened new opportunities to develop a mutually beneficial cooperation in more creative ways, based on lessons learned from current cooperation.
The 25th Anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration, which launched the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in 1995, creates a momentum for an in-depth reflexion on the EU’s strategic objectives and engagement in the region, in order to create tangible results on the ground.