Two and a Half Cheers for the Mediterranean Union

Nicolas Sarkozy deserves credit for trying to revitalize European cooperation with the mostly Arab states to the south. But if the Mediterranean Union is to achieve more than was managed in the Barcelona Process of the 1990's, Europe must get serious about several key issues, from free trade to human rights.

Maybe it is time to be a bit more generous to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and look at the outcome of what he does rather than the way that he does it.

The original launch of the Mediterranean Union almost sank the whole enterprise. Appearing to speak without giving the issue much thought, Sarkozy initially proposed a club of European and mostly Arab states along the Mediterranean’s shore. It would have been in essence a French-run enterprise that the rest of Europe would have paid for. This did not go down well, particularly with the Germans.

There was also a strong suspicion that the French were trying to find a way to buy off Turkey with a relationship falling well short of European Union membership.

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