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Euro-Mediterranean Partnership

Volume 453: debated on Monday 27 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made by the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in turning the existing bilateral agreements into a free trade area; and if he will make a statement. (100900)

In the Barcelona Declaration of 1995, the Euro-Mediterranean Partners agreed on the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area (FTA) by 2010. At bilateral level, every Mediterranean country involved in the EuroMed Partnership, except for Syria (pending Council decision on signature), has concluded and currently implements Association Agreements with the EU. These Association Agreements constitute the foundation on which free trade is developing in the Mediterranean region.

One of the most visible results of the Barcelona Process to date is the liberalisation of trade in manufactured goods, for which the Mediterranean Partners now enjoy duty-free access to the EU market. The Mediterranean countries are progressively dismantling their tariffs on imports of EU industrial goods over a maximum period of 12 years. In addition, important progress has been achieved through the adoption of the new Pan-Euro-Med Rules of Origin allowing for diagonal cumulation, progress on trade facilitation, removal of non-tariff barriers, and greater transparency and predictability in the implementation of trade policy measures in the Mediterranean countries. Negotiations are currently under way in the areas of agriculture, services and investment, and to incorporate a dispute settlement mechanism into the Association Agreements between the EU and the Mediterranean partners.