Heads of state and government officials are meeting in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday, to mark the tenth anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration.
The delegation of the European Commission to Israel said the leaders are announcing a declaration on a common vision and will decide on a 5-year plan aiming to reinforce relations and to meet challenges in the region such as terrorism, political and economic reform and migration.
Foreign ministers from the European Union, North Africa and the Middle East gathered in Barcelona in 1995 and laid out what is known as the Barcelona process or the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership – a plan to strengthen ties between Europe and ten countries ranging from Morocco to Israel. The plan also aimed to form a free trade zone in the Mediterranean region by 2010.
Although the process has provided aid, critics say the plan has not met expectations and that there is still a lot to be accomplished. Foreign investment in the Middle East has not reached the anticipated levels and the political systems in these countries still require modernization. Observers say the vision of a free trade area by 2010 is looking increasingly out of reach.
The European Commission has said its priorities for the region over the coming years are advancing democracy and human rights through stronger political dialogue and cooperation, expanding economic opportunities, tackling immigration issues and making education more accessible.
Many leaders of states involved in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership have chosen not to attend the Sunday meeting.