HC Deb 09 February 2001 vol 362 cc762-3W
Dr. Starkey

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the aims of the European Union in the Barcelona process for economic development in the countries involved. [147694]

Mr. Vaz

The EU's aims for the economic development of the Southern Mediterranean countries involved in the Barcelona process were reaffirmed at the Conference of Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers at Marseilles last November. The Foreign Secretary informed the Foreign Affairs Committee of the presidency conclusions from Marseilles in November, which outlined the EU's economic aims for the Barcelona process. I also informed the European Scrutiny Committees in late November last year.

The aim of the economic chapter of Barcelona is to establish an area of shared prosperity in the Mediterranean. At Marseilles, Ministers (both from the EU and the Mediterranean partners) reaffirmed their continuing objective to create a Euro-Mediterranean free-trade area by 2010. Ministers at Marseilles also agreed to take new measures for greater liberalisation of agricultural trade. Ministers placed emphasis on accelerating the outstanding negotiations under way with Algeria, Syria, and Lebanon, and signing of the Association Agreement with Egypt. Partner countries which already have Association Agreements in place were encouraged to open up further to one another economically in order to foster their integration into the global economy.

In support of these aims, the EU recently agreed the MEDA II regulation, which provides financial assistance to Mediterranean Partners. At Marseilles, EU Ministers confirmed that the indicative figure for the MEDA regulation over the period 2000–06 would be euro 5.35 billion.