ECONOMY

Barcelona to host the first all-party Euro-Med summit

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – Leaders of all 25 European Union member states and 10 of its Mediterranean neighbors will hold a first Euro-Mediterranean summit in Barcelona in November, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said yesterday. Past attempts to bring them together in the EU’s Euro-Mediterranean partnership, designed to promote trade, economic development, good governance and cultural cooperation, have foundered over the Arab-Israeli dispute. «The city of Barcelona will host a summit, on November 27 and 28, a meeting of heads of state and government of all the 35 countries which make up the Euro-Mediterranean process,» Moratinos told a news conference in Luxembourg. The partnership – one of the few multilateral forums where Israel, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority meet – was set up in 1995 in the Spanish city at the height of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo peace process. The meeting will be organized by Spain and Britain, which takes over the EU’s rotating presidency in July. Diplomats said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had indicated privately he would attend and Israel was expected to send either its figurehead president or its prime minister. The EU’s effort to help transform and modernize its southern neighbors has also been dogged by poor human rights records, democratic shortcomings, opaque governance and corruption in many of the partner countries, EU officials say. The announcement followed a two-day foreign ministers’ meeting that produced a joint statement signed by all 35 member states for the first time since the inaugural 1995 meeting.