HR Catherine Ashton sets up Task Force for the Southern Mediterranean

Cather­ine Ash­ton, EU High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for For­eign Affairs and Com­mis­sion Vice Pres­i­dent, today estab­lished a new Task Force for the South­ern Mediter­ranean. The Task Force will bring togeth­er exper­tise from the Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the Euro­pean Invest­ment Bank, the Euro­pean Bank for Recon­struc­tion and Devel­op­ment and oth­er inter­na­tion­al finan­cial insti­tu­tions to act as a focal point for assis­tance to coun­tries in North Africa which are going through polit­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion.

’Europe will be judged by how it responds to the momen­tous events going on in our neigh­bour­hood’ Cather­ine Ash­ton said. ‘I want the Task Force to ensure that we make good on the pro­pos­als we made in our recent review of the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy and to keep a clear view of the strat­e­gy we have defined for the whole South­ern Mediter­ranean region. It will improve the coher­ence of our assis­tance to civ­il soci­ety, to democ­ra­cy-build­ing and to eco­nom­ic recon­struc­tion through funds from the EU, the EIB and the EBRD

The Euro­pean Union has respond­ed quick­ly to the events of the Arab Spring, pro­vid­ing finan­cial assis­tance and polit­i­cal sup­port to coun­tries like Tunisia and Egypt which are seek­ing to estab­lish new deep democ­ra­cies. The EU is also work­ing with its inter­na­tion­al part­ners, includ­ing the Unit­ed Nations, the Arab League, the African Union and the Gulf coun­tries Coun­cil, to apply polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic pres­sure to regimes, like those in Libya, Syr­ia and Yemen, which are seek­ing to repress the demo­c­ra­t­ic will of the peo­ple for change.

In response to the Arab Spring the EU adopt­ed the com­mu­ni­ca­tion ´Part­ner­ship for Democ­ra­cy and Shared Pros­per­i­ty´ on 8th March and then on 25th May com­ple­ment­ed it with a new Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy. This pro­pos­al — “A new response to a chang­ing Neigh­bour­hood” — estab­lish­es a new rela­tion­ship between the EU and its neigh­bours based on mutu­al account­abil­i­ty, and increas­es EU finan­cial sup­port by 1.24 bil­lion euros between 2011 and 2013, in addi­tion to increased fund­ing from the EIB and EBRD

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union 

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