“developing” economies, pre-modern states.
found a common voice and decided to move for-
and an absence of regional cooperation. Even ward in a more coherent manner, more serious
when regional organizations do exist, they are problems were revealed in the southern Medi-
plagued by internal rivalries and paralysis. The terranean. The “Arabs on the southern coasts
Arab Maghreb Union, a regional organization of the Mediterranean were struck by astonish-
bringing together the five Maghreb states, held ment”, in the words of a Tunisian commenta-
its most recent summit in 1994. The League of tor underlining the lack of communication and
Arab States is the largest regional organization, coordination among Arab leaders.
regrouping 22 MENA states, yet its ability to leaders were sceptical about joining a regional
manage and influence regional conflicts effec- organization that could serve as a means of nor-
tively has been questioned on account of the malizing relations with Israel before it had even
deep divisions inside the organization. returned occupied Arab land.
To regulate north-south relations around the To address the complex environmental chal-
Mediterranean, the idea of a Union for the Medi- lenges facing us we need to establish a part-
terranean might have been a suitable forum, a nership linking the two shores of the Medi-
way of opening up “fortress Europe” and find- terranean. Will the Union be this vehicle? We
ing common solutions to common problems. also need better governance, greater political
But this idea has too often been associated with freedom and respect for fundamental human
political ambitions inside the EU and met with rights in the Middle East and North Africa.
suspicion by its Arab neighbours. Support by the Otherwise corrupt regimes that do not rep-
French President Nicolas Sarkozy for a Mediter- resent their constituencies will continue to
ranean Union has given new impetus to the Bar- waste resources instead of investing to solve
celona process, but also created much debate in pressing needs.
Germany feared the French initiative
might be a diversion from the EU Neighbour- The question is still how the two shores of the
hood Policy and a distraction from absorbing Mediterranean should go about collaborating
eastern European countries into the Union. to resolve environmental problems and their
Spain, in turn, thought the French initiative was impact on security when such discrepancies in
perhaps an attempt by a former colonial power political organization and economic capacity
to regain lost ground. But once the EU countries separate them.