The Barcelona Process

The Barcelona Process was launched in November 1995 by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the then, 15 EU members and 12 Mediterranean partners, as the framework to manage both bilateral and regional relations. Guided by the agreements of the Barcelona Declaration , it formed the basis of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership which has expanded and evolved into the Union for the Mediterranean. It was an innovative alliance based on the principles of joint ownership, dialogue and co-operation, seeking to create a Mediterranean region of peace, security and shared prosperity. The partnership was organised into three main dimensions, which remain today as the broad working areas of the partnership:

  • Political and Security Dialogue, aimed at creating a common area of peace and stability underpinned by sustainable development, rule of law, democracy and human rights.
  • Economic and Financial Partnership, including the gradual establishment of a free-trade area aimed at promoting shared economic opportunity through sustainable and balanced socio-economic development.
  • Social, Cultural and Human Partnership, aimed at promoting understanding and intercultural dialogue between cultures, religions and people, and facilitating exchanges between civil society and ordinary citizens, particularly women and young people. 

Under the umbrella of each sector, Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial meetings have been held in order to establish the political commitments which drive cooperation and activity across sectors. These meetings are punctuated by periodic meetings of Euro-Mediterranean Ministers of Foreign Affairs which take stock of the partnership, its priorities and the progress made on different initiatives.  

With the introduction of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in 2004, the Barcelona Process essentially became the multilateral forum of dialogue and cooperation between the EU and its Mediterranean partners while complementary bilateral relations are managed mainly under the ENP and through Association Agreements signed with each partner country.  

The EU works closely with each of its Mediterranean partners to establish support programmes for economic transition and reform which take into account each country’s specific needs and characteristics. These actions are funded under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI).

In 2005, the Barcelona Summit agreed on a five-year work programme pdf - 47 KB [47 KB] and a Euro-Mediterranean Code of Conduct for Countering Terrorism pdf - 37 KB [37 KB] , as well as adding migration as a fourth key pillar of the Partnership.

Since 1995, the European Commission has supported the Barcelona Process with the provision of €16 billion from the Community budget pdf - 20 KB [20 KB] . Loans from the European Investment Bank amount to approximately €2 billion per year.

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