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Mediterranean Quarterly 15.2 (2004) 112-114
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Sven Biscop is a research fellow in the security and governance department of the Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels. Euro-Mediterranean Security: A Search for Partnership is part of the International Political Economy of New Regionalisms Series. Biscop is a specialist on the political economy of the Mediterranean region and its relationship with Europe. This book considers the recent history of the relationship and the policies and institutions of the European Union vis-à-vis the countries of the region. It concludes with recommendations for actions to be taken by the EU to ensure peace and stability in the region.
Biscop begins with a helpful description of the Mediterranean security environment, pointing out the conflicts in the area and describing the entities that the EU has developed to deal with the region. One of the most notable parts of the latter descriptions is a list of sixty-three acronyms for organizations and programs that affect the relationship, ranging from ACRS (Arms Control and Regional Security Working Group) to WMD (weapons of mass destruction). It is important because it suggests the complexity of the relationship.
Europe and the twelve countries of the littoral are inextricably tied to each other by economic, humanitarian, and security interests. The partnership has been notable in that it includes countries that normally do not have relations with each other—for example, Israel and the Arab nations, the parties on Cyprus, and Greece and Turkey. Remarkably, it has been possible to assemble all the participants at several meetings.
Economic relations are important. North Africa's natural gas is vital to the economy of the EU, and the trade of each "party" is heavily oriented toward the other. Europe needs a stable Mediterranean in order to further this relationship, as do the countries of the littoral. Biscop points out the mechanisms the EU established to pursue the relationship, one of which is the European Security and Defense Policy, the purpose of which is to create an EU military capability.
In one of the very helpful parts of the book, Biscop describes the history of the relationship, beginning in 1956 and leading to the formation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) at the Barcelona Conference of 1995. He describes the three baskets of the EMP: (1) a political and security partnership, (2) an economic and financial partnership, and (3) a partnership in social, cultural, and human affairs. Biscop points out, however, that despite numerous meetings and declarations, the EMP has not made tangible progress on the security and defense aspect of the relationship. He cites several [End Page 112] reasons for this. First and foremost, the Arab-Israeli crisis has made it difficult, if not impossible, to take any regional actions, since both Israel and neighboring Arab countries participate in the EMP. Biscop comes back to this point in almost every chapter of the book; his research identifies the absence of progress in the Middle East peace process as the single most important obstacle to promoting regional stability. Other regional conflicts—those on Cyprus and in the Western Sahara—also have created difficulties in achieving common policy. As a result, it has been almost impossible to design confidence- and security-building measures as an engine to advance the goals of the partnership.
The partnership also has been hampered by suspicion among the twelve non-EU countries that the entire effort is designed to further the policy goals of the northern members—the EU. The twelve, Biscop says, are troubled by the fact that all initiatives seem to come from the EU countries and that they have little input in the work of the partnership. They also are troubled that many of the EMP initiatives involve reductions or limitations on the military structures of the southern members. This also is exacerbated by the fact that Israel is understood to have a nuclear weapons capability when none of the other...