Maghreb Arab Union and EU To Reflect on a Cooperative Approach
On January 18 the Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union Habib Benyahya stated during a meeting with EU officials in Brussels that the Maghreb and the European Union (EU) should reflect on a cooperative approach “5 +27″ for the new challenges they face.
“The EU has undertaken several initiatives to strengthen its bilateral relations with each of the Maghreb countries. Nowadays we consider an approach 5 +27 to meet the new challenges we face,” said Mr. Ben Yahya at a joint press conference with European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule.
Ben Yahya, who welcomed the cooperation relations between the EU and the Maghreb, stressed the importance of collective responses to common challenges and deepen dialogue and expand to other spheres, including economic and investment.
For his part, Mr. Fule said that his talks with Mr. Ben Yahya came just days after the adoption by the EU of a communication on strengthening cooperation and regional integration in the Maghreb, recalling that communication is part of the EU response to the developments that occurred in the southern region of the Mediterranean and reflects the commitment of the EU to give more substance to its engagement in the region.
Practical suggestions were made to see how the EU can support cooperation initiatives aimed at strengthening cooperation between the Maghreb countries, he said, noting that the EU has a long experience in integration could also benefit from improved economic relations between the Maghreb states.
He also noted that the recent events in Mali and Algeria emphasize the need to strengthen cooperation between the EU and the Maghreb countries and the Maghreb region as a whole.
Adding that discussions with the Secretary General of the AMU (Arab Maghreb Union) also focused on ways to implement EU proposals to promote regional integration in the Maghreb and to undertake concrete initiatives in the field of energy, transport and the private sector.
The EU has proposed last December a wide range of measures to support integration efforts in the Maghreb. The EU proposals complement the strong support it provides to the Maghreb countries through the European Neighbourhood Policy and, in the case of Mauritania, the European Development Fund (EDF) and the strategy EU for Security and Development in the Sahel region.
The EU proposals are focused mainly on the development of political dialogue, including security and defense, as well as the promotion of human rights and democratization.
They are also based on actions likely to encourage cooperation between the EU and regional organizations and initiatives such as AMU and the 5 +5 Dialogue, particularly in the setting up the EU-Africa Strategy.