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Folder Political Framework

The depollution initiative is intended to operate within existing political processes and institutions rather than create new ones. It is intended to support and enhance previously agreed actions and give new impetus to efforts to de-pollute the Mediterranean.

As far as cooperation between the EU and the Mediterranean partner countries is concerned, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) are now the main policy instruments and set the general context in which this initiative lies. Since, from 2007 onwards, all EU action and finance in the ENP region will be in support of these policies, it is important to understand that Commission involvement needs to be in support of this framework from this point onwards.

This framework of cooperation between the EU and its Mediterranean partner countries is of paramount importance for environmental improvement of the region. The problems affecting this environment, their root causes, and the general measures needed to address them are already well known. There is now a need to use this knowledge to define and implement concrete actions that tackle the major sources of problems in practical terms.

There are already obvious links between this comprehensive EU cooperation framework and a number of environmental elements and actors in the area:

• The Barcelona Convention is the legal cornerstone for multi-lateral cooperation on environmental and sustainable development issues, including pollution monitoring and control. It unites all Mediterranean countries and the European Community.

• EU Environmental Policies and measures, namely in the field of water quality and management (EU Water Initiative or Water Framework Directive) as well as waste management and industrial pollution prevention. Although EU law is only binding on EU Member States, this legislation has allowed the development of experience in identifying and exploring different solutions to environmental problems that may be useful for other Euro-Med. partners. Particular attention should be paid in this context to the forthcoming Marine Thematic Strategy, whose implementation will require increased cooperation from EU Member States with their neighbours.

• The Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD) which is expected to be endorsed by the contracting parties to the Barcelona Convention at their 14th COP. The VIIth Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs supported the successful conclusion of the drafting of the Strategy as it “will become an important vehicle for mainstreaming sustainable development throughout the partnership.”