EU-Mediterranean

The Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area (EMFTA) is a free trade zone under construction since the Barcelona Declaration, a framework plan, was adopted in 1995. It is being built through a series of bilateral FTAs (called Association Agreements) between Brussels and each state bordering the Mediterranean, as well as so-called horizontal FTAs between the non-EU Mediterranean countries themselves, such as the Agadir Agreement.

The countries in question are Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. (Libya is left out of the EMFTA plan as such, but will be served a separate bilateral trade and investment deal from the EU.)

Many people view the EU’s ambitions to build this special "partnership" with North African and Middle Eastern states — which involves not only trade and investment liberalisation but deep political reform, what Brussels calls "approximation" of other countries’ legal and political institutions with its own — as both imperialist and neocolonial. This is all the more significant taking into account the United States’ plans to weave together a US-Middle East Free Trade Agreement (MEFTA). For the two are in direct competition.

EMFTA was supposed to be completed by 2010. However, a sustainability impact assessment of EMFTA commissioned by the EU already foresees important negative social and environmental consequences. Complicating things further, French President Sarkozy took the initiative to set up a Union for the Mediterranean, involving only the countries that border the sea, which was launched in July 2008. Further still, questions have been arising as to why the EU does not merge its Mediterranean FTA initiative with its GCC FTA initiative.

In September 2011, the EU announced the opening of "deep and comprehensive" trade negotiations with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. In February 2012, the EU and Morocco signed an agricultural trade deal (which also covers fisheries). Critics have noted that the agreement will promote the exploitation of the disputed territory of Western Sahara, that the main benefactors will be transnational companies and the King of Morocco, and that small farmers will suffer under the deal.

last update: May 2012


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  • 20-Jul-2015 Jerusalem Post Palestinians to EU: Suspend trade agreements with Israel to protest demolition of homes
    Residents of the Palestinian village of Sussiya on Sunday called on the European Union to suspend its trade agreements with Israel to protest the pending demolition of unauthorized homes in their herding community in the South Hebron Hills region of the West Bank.
  • 29-Jun-2015 Palestinian News Network What Palestine needs is for Europe to honour its own agreements
    What we, as Palestinians, are asking from Europe is nothing more than that the EU protects their own 20-year-long investment in the two-state solution by respecting its own obligations under domestic and international law.
  • 19-Jun-2015 Sahara Press Service Morocco: EU Court to give verdict ’in few months’ on Sahrawi appeal against EU-Morocco agricultural agreement
    The European Union Court examined Tuesday the appeal of the Polisario Front against the agricultural agreement concluded in 2000 between the European Union and Morocco, and the decision on this issue will be given in a few months
  • 16-Jun-2015 Western Sahara Resource Watch European Court of Justice to assess EU-Morocco agri-deal
    The European Court of Justice will assess the EU-Morocco agricultural agreement over Western Sahara on 16 June
  • 29-Jan-2015 PNN Ashrawi praises MEPs call on suspending EU-Israel Association Agreement
    "It is time for the EU to reconsider its political and trade relations with Israel and agreements, including the EU-Israel Association Agreement which Israel has persistently violated,” PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said.
  • 29-Dec-2014 TeleSur Powerlessness and confusion: The EU and Israel
    EU’s trade policy with Israel continues to be business as usual, including trade in military hardware.
  • 9-Dec-2014 WSCUK WSC UK threaten legal action against UK government
    Western Sahara Campaign UK is threatening legal action against the British government for treating imported products originating in Western Sahara as Moroccan for the purposes of the EU–Morocco Association Agreement.
  • 26-Nov-2014 Al Jazeera Where are the EU sanctions on Israel?
    EU inaction is likely to further bolster the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement if it is seen as the only effective avenue for European rejection of Israeli policies.
  • 24-Nov-2014 APS Algeria: EU Association Agreement has not had the desired effect, says Benyounes
    The Algeria-EU trade deal has not had the desired effect of promoting non-oil exports and attracting foreign investment, Trade Minister Amara Benyounes said.
  • 21-Nov-2014 BDS Movement EU must cease “material support” for Israel’s crimes, say leading trade unions
    The huge number of mainstream organizations that are calling for the suspension of the EU-Israel association agreement reflects the growing frustration across Europe with the failure of European governments to respond to Israel’s repeated massacres and violations of international law.
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