A Faster, Better Route to Economic Integration Across the Mediterranean

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An alternative approach to the current economic integration roadmap for Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries would provide a significant opportunity for EU-Turkey-MENA cooperation while substantially improving the economic outlook for the Southern Mediterranean countries. The goal of economic integration between the southern part of the Mediterranean and Europe is currently being pursued through the gradual implementation of a web of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs). This is the legacy of the Euro-Mediterranean Barcelona process, which initially foresaw the establishment of a free trade zone across the Mediterranean by 2010. The way forward envisaged the conclusion of FTAs first between the EU and individual MENA countries, and then among MENA countries themselves in order to create a large, seamless free trade area around the Mediterranean. The first part of this vision was gradually and successfully implemented—the EU has initiated and concluded FTAs with all of its Mediterranean neighbors except for Libya.

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