Alan Deidun | Sunday, 17 May 2009
Bookmark and Share

January 1st, 2010

The date in caption marks the changing of the guard at the helm of the rotating Presidency of the European Union, with Spain assuming such an influential role on this date. The date also holds a lot of promise for Malta and other Mediterranean countries. Some delving into recent history will elucidate this point.
During the French Presidency of the EU, President Sarkozy had lobbied for the creation of a Mediterranean Union, later re-branded into ‘Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean’, to allay fears that fledgling idea would be a repeat of the Barcelona Process which had reaped so many benefits in the past.
Despite the MU being officially launched in Paris on the 13th and 14th of July 2008, its launch was mainly seen as an exercise in officialdom since its clout had been watered down by numerous amendments imposed by a number of dissenting voices. The creation of such a union was widely supported by Spain, Italy and Greece, whilst countries like Germany where more cautious in view of the fact that funds would be spent in sectors it would not have any say in.
Originally, plans were for the involvement of just those countries which border on the Mediterranean but subsequently it was decided to involve also all the EU states and those participating in the EuroMediterranean Partership. This makes for a staggering total of 43 member states and an observer one (Libya), comprising a total population of around 700 million, of which 25% hailed from Arab countries.
The Union’s mandate involved working on a series of issues that affect both the EU and the southern Mediterranean countries, including immigration, security, trade and environment issues and was concocted mainly as an answer to its failed predecessor Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The Mediterranean Union would be a looser grouping than the EU. Sarkozy called on the Mediterranean people to “do the same thing, with the same goal and the same method” as the European Union, though he stated it would not be based on the EU model. When the project was modified in 2008, many proposals were dropped, such as a Mediterranean Investment Bank (modelled on its European counterpart).
The framework of the union had been delineated, so much so that nitty-gritty details had already been decided upon – for example, decisions had to be taken at twice yearly summit meetings at head of state and government level under a co-presidency chaired by the EU foreign policy chief, the President of the Commission and of the European Council on behalf of the EU and a co-chairman chosen by the non-EU participants (probably Egypt).
Two most of the enthralling proposals made within the ambit of the MU include a common judicial area to fight corruption, terrorism, organised crime and people smuggling and the project to install concentrating solar power in the deserts. This is where Malta enters the scene – our island state had lobbied frenetically with great impetus during the French Presidency to host the secretariat of the MU, although the final choice was expected to fall on Tunisia.
Operational oceanography is fast emerging as an indispensable tool on monitoring various sea parameters, and hence are essential in ensuring that Malta’s obligations vis-à-vis marine directives are met. Hats off here to the University’s Physical Oceanography Unit, under the sterling guidance of Dr. Aldo Drago, for its indefatigable promotion of such techniques, even through the EU-funded project NETMARIMED, to which I contributed too.
A holistic approach to marine and maritime affairs is called upon. Recent legislative developments have highlighted this fact – the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is a case in point. The aim of the European Union’s ambitious Marine Strategy Framework Directive (adopted in June 2008) is to protect more effectively the marine environment across Europe. It aims to achieve good environmental status of the EU’s marine waters by 2021 and to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive constitutes the vital environmental component of the Union’s future maritime policy, designed to achieve the full economic potential of oceans and seas in harmony with the marine environment. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive establishes European Marine Regions on the basis of geographical and environmental criteria. Each Member State – cooperating with other Member States and non-EU countries within a marine region – are required to develop strategies for their marine waters.
With a marine area which is roughly twenty times our terrestrial area, this should be etched indelibly as our slogan. As a Maltese and intrinsically Mediterranean citizen, I look forward to the actuation of an effective Mediterranean Union.

Dr Alan Deidun is a marine research and MEP candidate for the PN.


Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click button below.
Please write a contact number and a postal address where you may be contacted.



Download MaltaToday Sunday issue front page in pdf file format

All the interviews from Reporter on MaltaToday's YouTube channel.


The Mater Dei haemorrhage


Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016, Malta, Europe
Managing editor Saviour Balzan | Tel. ++356 21382741 | Fax: ++356 21385075 | Email