FEMISE annual Conference 2016 on: “Two Decades after Barcelona: Rethinking the EU-Med Partnership”

Theme : Two Decades after Barcelona: Rethinking the EU-Med Partnership

Place : Athens, Greece

Date : From 13 to 14 february 2016

grande-bretagne-a-luxury-collection-salle-de-conferences.10FEMISE is pleased to announce that its annual conference will take place this year in Athens, Greece, on the 13th and 14th of February, 2016.

Agenda of the Conference available for download, click here

The FEMISE conference is organised every year around a theme that is considered of importance to the EU-Med region and where we provide a platform for the different actors from the North and the South of the Mediterranean to debate and exchange views on this theme and conclude with joint recommendations.

This year’s theme will be on: “Two Decades after Barcelona: Rethinking the EU-Med Partnership”. This topic is particularly crucial as the EU-Med region celebrates its 20 years since Barcelona and is currently facing many economic, social and political challenges. Below you will find (in english) the concept note about the conference, explaining the idea behind the theme and the structure of the conference.

If your institute is not a member of FEMISE network and you are interested to attend the event, you may contact our partner Viviane Bernadac at bernadac@promosciences.com

Concept note and  Draft Agenda

I. Context

Twenty years after the Barcelona process, the EU-Med countries are still in search for channels that could bring closer the two sides of the Mediterranean. The Barcelona Process was a first step that encouraged most Mediterranean Partners’ countries to open-up their industries to international competition and to adopt some economic reforms. Then a second step came with the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in 2004 as a new deal going beyond the free trade agreement (FTAs) and involving development strategies, further structural reforms and implementation programmes for each country. The ENP aimed to provide support and foster stability, security and prosperity for this region. A decade later, it becomes clear that, despite some economic progress, the situation in the region is much more complicated than it was in 1995.

Undeniably, the political upheaval that many countries of the South Mediterranean witnessed in 2010 and 2011 has been initially considered a progress towards democracy and stability. However, one must acknowledge that countries of the South Med stand at different distances from their fundamental democratic transitions and stability aims. Some have taken good, but difficult steps, while others witnessed the gap widening and their transformation turning into instabilities and violence. Therefore, it was time for the European Commission to react and it did, by revealing its “Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy” in late 2015 where it proposes a different approach towards its neighbours who are in a complex, mixed and complicated situation. Now, the Southern countries are hoping that the new Policy will respond to their aspirations and the EU is hoping, among other things, that it will bring more stability for the region.

It comes as no surprise that this new review of the ENP has stabilisation and security as its main political priority while differentiation and greater mutual ownership are further key elements. Most importantly, this review takes into account the wishes of each country concerning the nature and scope of its partnership with the EU. All in all, it recognizes that the “old ENP’s” effort to export a single model of society to the South is not applicable anymore. The new EU approach recognizes that complementary measures to the Neighbourhood Policies could be beneficiary. The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTAs) is under negotiations with some partners based on their level of progress. Other complementary agreements within the EU-Med region could be considered. The EU is also aware of the rising of new Global Actors that might have an effect on their relation with their Southern Partners, the main purpose is to make this effect a positive one. This is easier said than done, as serious short-term challenges are shedding heavy clouds on this partnership and putting all efforts at risk: security issues on both sides of the Mediterranean are getting more serious then ever before and closely linked to this is the dramatic refugees’ crisis that have left drastic marks in the Mediterranean that joins them.

Within this complex and rapidly changing environment for the EU-Med, the FEMISE annual conference of 2016 will have as its objective to provide a platform for debates and discussions among the different actors on how to achieve progress in the EU-Med region, what supporting tools and complement agreements and how to face the challenges.

II. Structure of the conference

The conference will comprise three main parts: (1) three plenary sessions focusing on the main theme of the Conference; (2) three thematic sessions involving the presentations of the research progress of selected projects funded by FEMISE (though the European Commission grant); and (3) the General Assembly meeting for members of the network. The FEMISE annual conference is a platform for members of the network, academics, policymakers and representatives of the EU to engage in a constructive dialogue about the future of the region and the role the EU can play in the context of the new ENP.

III. Plenary Sessions:

Plenary I: Rethinking the Euromed Partnerships: Fine-tuning or Reinvention?

The previous ENP policies were no longer suited for the aspirations of the South Med Countries during their political transition. New regional realties prevail and are redefining the priorities of the region. The European Commission responded to those changes with a review of its ENP policies (in Nov 2015) following a public consultation from March to July 2015 with partner countries, international organisations, social partners, civil society and academia. The aim of this session is to give an overall outline of the new ENP, and most importantly its assessment in terms of :how far it will achieve shared and common interests and priorities, whether it meets the differentiated aspirations and perspectives of diverse but interdependent South med countries, how will meet the new short and long-term challenges of the South Med countries during their transition and what limitations it faces. and whether it includes all the relevant actors and stakeholders The session will include different views from international and South Med experts addressing these issues complex issues while focusing on ways to benefit the most out of this agreement.

Plenary II: Towards a New Paradigm for a Mutually Beneficiary EU-Med Partnership

Whatever the new name of the relationship between the Euro-Med countries, something new is needed. The elements of the new paradigm could include deeper FTAs such as the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTA), new migration agreements that could bring closer the two shores of the Mediterranean and revised investment policies that would increase the integration. Equally important, it is important to discuss on different ways of handling the negotiation between the two sides of the Mediterranean. This session will be devoted to discussing each of these dimensions, with a view to articulating their merits, constraints and feasibilities. The speakers will also draw on the experience of the EU in other regions/countries.

Plenary III: Meeting the Short-Term Challenges: The Role of the EU

While security concerns, terrorism and migration have been components of ENP since the beginning, they have recently occupied a central place in Euromed relationships. As authoritarian rulers fell during the political and social uprisings, some Euromed countries have witnessed escalating and unprecedented violence giving way to civil wars (Libya and Syria) adding to the existent tensions in the Middle East side of the Mediterranean. The emergence of new non-state actors plunged the whole region into fear of terrorism and precipitated millions of people from the South into misery and despair. This has triggered humongous migratory flows whether into neighbouring Arab countries or European countries, who are in economic crisis and not necessarily prepared (both economically and socially) to receive this influx of migrants. According to most recent data, more than a million migrant entered Europe in the 2015 escaping wars, discrimination, and unliveable conditions. How should the EU-Med respond to these challenges both at the humanitarian and political levels to quickly and actively restore peace? How should it reinforce conflict prevention mechanisms on the long term and how will it deal with the migration crisis? In all aspects, for any alternative model of the EU-Med Partnership to work, these short-term challenges need to be addressed as they become more of pre-requisites for the success of the partnership, this session will address some of these challenges and potential ways to address them.

IV. Thematic Sessions

Session I: Firms Transition and Performance

Session II: Trade Liberalization, FDI and Tourism industry in the EU-Med

Session III: Inclusive policies and the role of vicinity on migration and social integration

EU-FlagThis conférence is organised with financial support from the European Union through the FEMISE project on “Support to Economic Research, studies and dialogues of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership”.