As the parliamentary institution of the UfM, the Parliamentary Assembly (PA-UfM) provides a framework for multilateral cooperation among elected representatives of the EU and its Southern Mediterranean partner countries. It contributes to:
Enhancing the visibility and transparency of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and bringing its work closer to the interests and expectations of the public.
Adding democratic legitimacy and support to regional cooperation.
The PA-UfM holds at least one plenary session per year and comprises 280 members, equally distributed between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean:
EU national parliaments (28)
The Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, Libya, the European Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee are among the Assembly’s permanent observers.
The PA-UfM is one of the few parliamentary bodies where Israelis, Palestinians and other Arab elected representatives sit down together and discuss.
The co-ordination of the Assembly’s work is the responsibility of its Bureau, which also represents the Assembly. This Bureau consists of four members appointed for a four-year mandate: two appointed by the Southern Mediterranean partner countries, one appointed by the EU national parliaments and one appointed by the European Parliament (which is a permanent member of the Bureau).
The annual Presidency is held in rotation by each of the four members of the Bureau, ensuring parity and alternation between south and north chairs. The presidency of the Bureau is held by the EP (2012-2013), followed by Jordan (2013-2014), Portugal (2014-2015) and Morocco (2015-2016).
Five standing committees work within the PA-UfM:
- Committee on Political Affairs, Security and Human Rights;
- Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs, Social Affairs and Education;
- Committee on Improving Quality of Life, Exchanges between Civil Societies and Culture;
- Committee on Energy, Environment and Water;
- Committee on Women's Rights in Euromed Countries
The Bureau can also establish two working groups per year.
The PA-UfM adopts resolutions or recommendations – though these are not legally binding – on all aspects of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation that concern the executive organs of the UfM, the Council of the EU, the European Commission and the national governments of partner countries.
Texts are approved by consensus and when one more than the half the delegations of each of the two components – European and non-European – of the Assembly is present. (When this is not possible, decisions can be taken by a qualified majority of two thirds).
The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM)
The UfM was launched at a summit in Paris in July 2008. It eventually absorbed the previous Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP or Barcelona Process), which had provided a framework for multilateral cooperation in the region since 1995. The Barcelona Declaration had proclaimed three sets of objectives: a political and security partnership, an economic and financial partnership and a social, cultural and human partnership.
The UfM was created in order to give the cooperation fresh impetus. In addition to the 27 EU Member States and the 10 Southern Mediterranean partners, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Monaco, Montenegro and Mauritania joined the cooperation.
Six concrete projects were selected as priorities for the UfM: de-pollution of the Mediterranean Sea; maritime and land highways; solar energy; regional research programmes; joint civil protection programme for disasters; and business development for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Another innovation of the UfM is its permanent institutional architecture: a two year Co-Presidency is held by the European External Action Service (High Representative/Vice-President Catherine Ashton) and one of the Southern Mediterranean partner countries.
Its Secretariat is based in Barcelona (currently headed by Fathallah Sijilmassi) and identifies and promotes projects, raises funds, co-ordinates partners, enhances the visibility of the UfM and establishes institutional links.
From the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Forum to the PA-UfM: the Parliamentary Assembly of the UfM
First convened in Brussels in October 1998 to provide the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership with a parliamentary dimension, the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Forum was attended by delegates from the EP and the national parliaments of the EU Members and Southern Mediterranean partners.
The Forum’s conversion into a genuine Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) was proposed in an EP resolution and approved by the fifth Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Ministers (Valencia, April 2002). The EMPA’s inaugural sitting was held in Greece in March 2004.
At the sixth plenary session, held in Amman in March 2010, EMPA’s name was changed to Parliamentary Assembly of the UfM (PA-UfM), thus underlining its unique role as the parliamentary body of the UfM, with a focus on democratic control and its consultative role.