EconomyEuropeMiddle East

EU initiative not enough to prepare Med partners for FTA

A €500 million-per-year initiative to boost development in the 12 partner countries of the EU does not go far enough to prepare the Union's volatile southern flank to become a free trade area by 2010.

Under the scheme hammered out by Euro-Med finance ministers in Barcelona, the European Investment Bank will gradually increase its loans to the region to €2 billion per year. Analysts gave the initiative a qualified welcome.

“[It] is positive in the sense that it promotes direct investment in medium and small enterprises, which will help create jobs,” Noureddine Fridhi, a policy advisor at MEDEA, a Brussels-based think-tank, told me. But Fridhi said the Mediterranean ministers had hoped to come away with a more generous deal to help them meet the challenges of reform, slowing growth and rampant unemployment.

In addition to increased capital transfers, the EU also needs to step up its technical assistance and liberalise its own trading practices, experts say. “The EU should be more flexible on rules of origin, especially for clothing and textiles, which are very restrictive,” said Miriam Manchin, a research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels. She added that the EU also needs to remove barriers in agricultural and service sectors.

However, Fridhi suggested the Mediterranean could do more to attract investment, such as implementing political, social and economic reforms.

There is also mounting concern that the and a possible war in Iraq might delay or scupper the Euro-Med integration process, which began in Barcelona in 1995.

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This article appeared in the 31 October 2002 issue of European Voice.

Author

  • Khaled Diab

    Khaled Diab is an award-winning journalist, blogger and writer who has been based in Tunis, Jerusalem, Brussels, Geneva and Cairo. Khaled also gives talks and is regularly interviewed by the print and audiovisual . Khaled Diab is the author of two books: for the Politically Incorrect (2017) and Intimate Enemies: Living with and Palestinians in the Holy Land (2014). In 2014, the Anna Lindh Foundation awarded Khaled its Mediterranean Journalist Award in the press category. This website, The Chronikler, won the 2012 Best of the Blogs (BOBs) for the best English-language blog. Khaled was longlisted for the Orwell journalism prize in 2020. In addition, Khaled works as communications director for an environmental NGO based in Brussels. He has also worked as a communications consultant to intergovernmental organisations, such as the EU and the UN, as well as civil society. Khaled lives with his beautiful and brilliant wife, Katleen, who works in humanitarian aid. The foursome is completed by Iskander, their smart, creative and artistic son, and Sky, their mischievous and footballing cat. Egyptian by birth, Khaled's life has been divided between the and . He grew up in and the , and has lived in , on and off, since 2001. He holds dual Egyptian-Belgian nationality.

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Khaled Diab

Khaled Diab is an award-winning journalist, blogger and writer who has been based in Tunis, Jerusalem, Brussels, Geneva and Cairo. Khaled also gives talks and is regularly interviewed by the print and audiovisual media. Khaled Diab is the author of two books: Islam for the Politically Incorrect (2017) and Intimate Enemies: Living with Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land (2014). In 2014, the Anna Lindh Foundation awarded Khaled its Mediterranean Journalist Award in the press category. This website, The Chronikler, won the 2012 Best of the Blogs (BOBs) for the best English-language blog. Khaled was longlisted for the Orwell journalism prize in 2020. In addition, Khaled works as communications director for an environmental NGO based in Brussels. He has also worked as a communications consultant to intergovernmental organisations, such as the EU and the UN, as well as civil society. Khaled lives with his beautiful and brilliant wife, Katleen, who works in humanitarian aid. The foursome is completed by Iskander, their smart, creative and artistic son, and Sky, their mischievous and footballing cat. Egyptian by birth, Khaled’s life has been divided between the Middle East and Europe. He grew up in Egypt and the UK, and has lived in Belgium, on and off, since 2001. He holds dual Egyptian-Belgian nationality.

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