Energy cooperation and stability in the Mediterranean region
The difficulties of implementing the fledgling “Union for the Mediterranean” have just been underlined by the resignation of the institution’s Secretary General, the Jordanian Ahmad Maddad’eh. These difficulties are known to be due partly to the tensions created in the Middle East by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also originate in blocking moves among European states that do not all see the institution in the same light, while the obstacles standing the way of rapprochement in the Maghreb are not without their own impact.
The gradual political destabilisation of the southern Mediterranean states is further modifying the situation. If we look back to the end of the European “Eastern bloc” in 1989 which led to the re-creation of a series of stable, democratic states, the current situation on the southern shore of the Mediterranean may well be sorted out in the not-too-distant future.
Be that as it may, there will be no decline in the current profusion of large-scale energy projects in the region for the time being.
A number of projects are competing with one another and with projects – which are themselves redundant – to carry natural gas to the northern shore of the Mediterranean from the Caspian Sea. Eventually an overall view will be needed. The Union for the Mediterranean – one of whose identified objectives is energy – should provide an appropriate setting for the consultation required.
Energy cooperation around the Mediterranean is set to intensify, upheld by the development aspirations of numerous peoples that will render stability in the region a necessity.
From this point of view, the European Union will play a vital role and the impetus provided by the European Commission will consequently prove decisive. The specific function of energy in all its various aspects, from production to transport, inevitably entails the specific responsibility of the “impulse provider”. The appointment of Commissioner Günther Oettinger to head international relations in the field of energy augurs very well.
The project planned as described in the editorial of March 2009 – two years ago now – seems increasingly advisable. Intended to provide information for large numbers of national and local members of parliament faced with industrialists and highly qualified officials, it was to give the elected representatives of the various countries around the Mediterranean the opportunity to find out more about and assess in greater detail the energy situation in the region, as well as the possibilities offered by energy for appropriate social economic and social development.