Southern Dimension, Perspectives and Priorities of the Mediterranean Neighbourhood

The round table held at the Fundación Tres Culturas dealt with various issues related to Andalusia and its role in the future of Europe
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GUILLERMO LOPEZ/ATALAYAR  -  

Within the framework of the conference 'Andalusia, a model of neighbourhood in the European Union', organised at the Tres Culturas Foundation together with the Secretariat for External Action of the Andalusian Regional Government and the regional government, as well as the Directorate General for the Internal Market and other Community Policies, the round table 'Southern Dimension, perspectives and priorities of the Mediterranean Neighbourhood' was held. 

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The round table, directed and moderated by the delegate of the Andalusian Regional Government in Brussels, Catalina de Miguel, was attended by a panel of recognised experts in the fields of International Law and International Relations, such as Alejandro del Valle, professor at the University of Cadiz and director of the Jean Monnet Centre for Immigration and Human Rights at the European External Borders, Martín Guillermo Ramírez, professor at the University of Cádiz and director of the Jean Monnet Centre for Immigration and Human Rights at the European External Borders, Martín Guillermo Ramírez, Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions, Nourdine Mouati, manager of cooperation projects between Spain and Morocco, as well as a collaborator with Atalayar, and finally Concha de Santa Ana Fernández, Managing Director of the Three Cultures of the Mediterranean Foundation.

"Despite the territorial issues affecting Morocco, which does not have closed borders, does not accept the borders of decolonisation, cooperation with Spain and Andalusia is excellent," said Alejandro del Valle, Professor of the University of Cadiz, opening the round table, summing up a general feeling among the speakers at the table. Andalusia as an important region in Europe's relations with the southern Mediterranean basin, thanks not only to its neighbourhood, but also to the ties that the region has maintained with North Africa, for historical and cultural reasons.

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"Andalusia is in a privileged position", recalled Martín Guillermo Ramírez, AEBR Secretary General, while agreeing with the other speakers that a strong commitment to relations with the southern part of the Mediterranean, and the revival of the Euro-Med sentiment, should once again be part of the main agenda of European foreign policy, and that Andalusia has an important role to play here. 

As an interlocutor for Europe and Andalusia, the role of Morocco stood out in the presentation, as Nourdine Mouati emphasised in his turn to speak: "Ten years ago, the Arab Spring was a cataclysm in northern Europe, which brought instability to the region, and from which Morocco was able to escape thanks to the farsightedness of His Majesty Mohammed VI". "Now we see Libya, it is an ungovernable country. What is happening in Lebanon. Of the 10 countries of the southern Mediterranean basin, Morocco has the role of being an interlocutor," he said, mentioning Morocco's progress in international relations and the creation of bridges, especially with Israel. "Spain, through Andalusia, and Morocco, are the only ones capable of leading this process of vision towards the south".

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With regard to the proposals on how to materialise the strong ties between Europe and the Mediterranean, three aspects were discussed during Question Time. Exchanges of students and teachers between all the countries, in a hypothetical programme similar to Erasmus, which would also entail a speeding up of visas in favour of North Africans. "It is sometimes difficult to understand why a Peruvian obtains a visa more easily than a Moroccan. It is a question that many people ask themselves", commented Alejandro del Valle. From the point of view of the regions, Martín Guillermo gave the example of the Iacobus programme between Galicia and the north of Portugal, "This is cross-border cooperation, as Andalusia could do".

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Mr Guillermo again focused on inter-regional cooperation as a model to be followed when he assessed the European Union's foreign policy efforts as "somewhat weak", due to a model that has not yet been perfectly realised, due to the principles of national sovereignty of each Member State, which continues to conduct its own foreign policies from a national perspective. "This is where the Conference on the Future of Europe can play an important role, thanks to its panel tool," commented María Lledó Laredo, Director General for the coordination of the Internal Market and other Community Policies, as another example of ways in which to work towards further Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.