Europe and the Mediterranean

Article published on Nov. 10, 2009
community published
Article published on Nov. 10, 2009
Europe is bored A need for Europe on the other side of the Mediterranean Bassma Kodmani Director of the Arab Reform Initiative Europe is bored but she doesn’t know it. Her citizens live comfortably and for a long time. They were told that happiness is the satisfaction of their personal needs and desires, and that the European project was to succeed in building Europe as an entity.
In order to be happy, however, the individual needs a project greater than himself or herself, and Europe will be fulfilled only when projecting herself into a more universal future. On the other side of the Mediterranean, there is a need for Europe. A political, economic, cultural need. From Turkey to Morocco, from Egypt to Palestine, governments and societies are finding that Europe’s promise is late in its realization. Waiting, people are desperately trying to accede to it. By responding to this wait, Europe will not only prove to be more generous. She will also be happier.

For a migratory ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community)

Hakim el-Karoui

Director at the Rothschild Bank, founder and president of the 21st Century Club

Thanks to the genius of Jean Monnet, Europe’s strength lies in having been able to invent new ways to unite people. Yet, one of the key issues of the twenty-first century will be to keep a worried Western world and an Arab-Muslim world moving on their search for an identity. Through its geography, history and culture, Europe is the political space best located to encourage mutual understanding and dialogue with the Arab-Muslim area. It needs to devise solutions commensurate with the Schuman declaration of May 9, 1950, which stated: “World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it. The contribution which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations.” The first fruit of these creative efforts was the establishment of the solidarités de fait (de facto solidarity) based on mutual interests. This glorious example should inspire us to identify complementarities, and find a balanced mechanism of exchange. Europe is getting old and needs immigrants. The Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) is young, its number of graduates is beginning to increase and it urgently needs opportunities for experienced professionals to transmit their know-how. A migratory ECSC would allow the migrations to be handled in common, through a controlled opening of the borders for young Maghrebian graduates, and the large expatriation financed and coordinated by European executives in order to facilitate a transfer of technologies in administration and private projects. This would pertain to everyone, including retirees or those who are about to retire. It would be an excellent opportunity for them to continue their activities while training future young talent. The idea can seem provocative in view of Europe’s fears concerning Muslim immigration. But, in the near future, Europeans will understand that they have more affinities with Maghrebians – with whom they’ve mingled since antiquity – than they have with Asians, for example. Based on the European Commission model, a high authority of Euro-Mediterranean migration would be charged with defining the general common interest of member countries accordingly by a supranational power. Jean Monnet said: “The Schuman proposals are either revolutionary or they are nothing. Their fundamental principle is the delegation of sovereignty within a more decisive limited domain.” What was true for Europe yesterday is true for the Euro-Mediterranean today. Perhaps therein lies Europe’s identity, in any case the identity that my wishes conjure up: the constant capacity for invention.

So that Europe finds her South again

André Azoulay

Adviser to King Mohammed VI President of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation

When, from Rabat or Essaouira, we look north, our gaze rests first on your shores in Europe, nourished by centuries of common destiny. We Moroccans know it, and many of us have had no qualms in integrating this plural dimension in the writing and the reading of our history. Some did it out of romanticism, others out of realism, but in no case have we been tempted by a fractured identity that would have been forged a bit lazily at the mercy of the vicissitudes of the moment. And yet, are we amnesiacs to the point of having forgotten that, during three or four millennia, the migrations did in the North what they did in the South, determined by history, richness and the unity of the Mediterranean. This Mediterranean that has never ceased to attract people coming from elsewhere. This Mediterranean that, thanks to the circulation of people and values, constituted the most fertile, the most creative and the boldest social, cultural and spiritual space of all times. Moreover, this space belongs to humans, like everything else. Who can still remember that those golden fruits, oranges or lemons, attributed to our regions, are strangers from the Far East, brought to the Mediterranean region by the Arabs? The eucalyptus bears a Greek name but has an Australian passport, and the cypress has a Persian identity, as the tomato is Peruvian, and the chili pepper Guyanese. Yet, all of that has become the very landscape of the Mediterranean. Can one imagine Andalusia without oranges or Tuscany without cypress trees? If one was putting together a catalogue of the people of the Mediterranean – those born on its shores or those that navigated its waters and all the newcomers that invaded it one after the other – wouldn’t one get the impression of cataloguing its plants and fruits? This observation is, happily, one of the past. A recent past certainly, but henceforth sublimated by the Union’s historical perspective of the Mediterranean. A Union that, for the first time in the annals of contemporary history, puts forth a future that will be one of common destiny, and will bring the most coherent, most lucid, and most realistic response to the political, economic and human challenges confronting this grand ark of nations and peoples stretching from the Strait of Gibraltar to the edges of the Persian Gulf. Everyone will get his or her share, and along the way, Europe will have found her South again to present to the community of nations this reconquered and reconciled space of all possibilities and richness.