EU cooperation with the Southern Neighbourhood takes place in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and includes ten partner countries: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine*, Syria and Tunisia.
In the Southern Neighbourhood region, the ENP is implemented through bilateral(tailor-made for each country), regional, neighbourhood-wide and Cross-Border cooperation programmes(between EU countries and neighbourhood countries sharing a land border or sea crossing). The latest ENP review in 2015 introduced the concepts of stronger co-ownership and differentiation, plus greater flexibility and focus, thus recognising the different aspirations and diversity of each partner as key pillars of this partnership.
At the bilateral level, the EU concluded Association Agreements with each and every Southern Mediterranean country (except Libya and Syria), which were subsequently complemented by the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plans. The EU and the Southern Mediterranean countries monitor together the implementation of these documents.
Union for the Mediterranean
At the regional level, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) remains the flagship forum for exchange on regional strategic issues between its 43 Member States. It was founded on 13 July 2008 at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, with an aim of reinforcing the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) that was set up in 1995 as the Barcelona Process. An action plan encompassing points on migration, social integration, justice and security, as well as a code of conduct for counter-terrorism, were adopted in 2005.
A first-ever Euro-Mediterranean ministerial meeting on migration took place in Albufeira (Portugal) in 2007 which led to the adoption of ministerial conclusions to increase cooperation at regional level in the field of migration.
Dialogue on migration and security
The EU shares many common challenges with Southern Mediterranean countries both on migration and security. The EU has developed a tailor-made dialogue on migration and security with different countries of the region.
With the approach of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum to establish a comprehensive migration partnerships with partner countries, the countries in North Africa are a priority. Most of them are the origin or transit of migrants’ journey to the EU. All countries in the region are also countries of destination for migrants coming from other parts of Africa, facing similar challenges as the EU. Several countries are also hosting significant communities of migrants and refugees.
Relations with the Southern Mediterranean countries on migration-related issues are strategic, aimed at facilitating mobility, saving lives at sea and discouraging irregular migration.
The EU has developed mobility partnerships, ensuring that the movement of persons between the EU and its partner countries is well managed and takes place in a secure environment. These partnerships are tailor-made to fit each partner country, in cooperation with EU countries as follows:
- a mobility partnership with Morocco on 7 June 2013,
- a mobility partnership with Tunisia on 3 March 2014 and
- a mobility partnership with Jordan on 9 October 2014.
The Commission also holds mandates to negotiate visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and Lebanon, all of which are currently on hold for different reasons.
EU funding programmes
Several EU funding programmes support the cooperation and reforms in the areas of migration and security. The bulk of funding derives from the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) under the Multi-annual Financial Framework 2014-2020. The most important regional projects are the Euromed Migration and the Euromed police projects.
The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa was established at the Valletta Summit on Migration in November 2015 to address the root causes of instability, forced displacement and irregular migration and to contribute to better migration management. The North of Africa window of the Trust Fund operates in Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria. The global objective for the North of Africa window of the EUTF is to contribute to safe, secure, legal and orderly migration from, to and within the region and support an effective management of migration flows that protects human rights. Coming to an end in 2020, the Commission proposed a prolongation of the EU Trust Fund to 2021.
Anti-smuggling and security cooperation
An Anti-Smuggling Ministerial Conference hosted by Italy on 13 July 2020 brought together Germany, France, Malta and Spain, as well as Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, with the participation of Commissioners Johansson and Várhelyi. The conference sent an important signal of enhanced mutual commitment between the EU and African Partners to take concrete steps to combat migrant smuggling and identify key areas for operational engagement. These include:
- cooperation with law enforcement authorities to conduct investigations,
- stepping up the work of EU agencies, including for law enforcement and border management,
- information campaigns and
- deploying European liaison officers.
The objective is to translate the political commitment expressed by African partners into concrete operational action.
Considering their geographical proximity and the common security threats, neighbouring countries in the Southern Mediterranean are priority countries for the EU concerning the development of the security cooperation. On 1 April 2020, CEPOL has launched the EuromedPolice programme, which, building on its previous programmes of EuromedPolice, aims at enhancing capacity building and threat analysis of Southern Partner countries on trans-border organised crime.
CEPOL has also launched the CT Inflow programme in 2020, to enhance capacity building of the same partner countries on counter-terrorism (based on the experience of previous CT-MENA programmes in 2015 and 2018), covering the threat analysis and aims at providing technical support.
- A dialogue for migration, mobility and security with the southern Mediterranean countries
- European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plans
- First Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting on Migration (2007) – Conclusions
*This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue