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The Partnership between Europe and the Arab World through the Lens of Jordan

[09-05-2019 05:53 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Following World War II, when millions of people lost their lives and many parts of Europe were left in ruins, French politician Robert Schuman launched the process that would gradually unite European countries economically and politically. It was 9 May 1950. Since then, the process of European integration has continued gradually but relentlessly, deepening and widening what is today the European Union (EU) and reuniting a continent which had been split by the Cold War.
The EU today is a unique partnership amongs28 Member States shaping a single market of 500 million consumers, underpinned by a single currency (the euro) and the freedom for its citizens to live, work and travel in any of the Member States.

But the EU is much more than a purely economic project: the Union is also a political project. This is embodied by the European Parliament, elected democratically by all European citizens to represent their interests with regard to EU laws and regulations. This expression of democracy will take place on 23-26 May, when people will vote to appoint 751 Members of the European Parliament.

Over the years, this political project has grown around core values of respect for human rights fundamental freedoms, democracy, equality, and the rule of law . These are also the values that the EU promotes globally through its projects and partnerships with governments, organizations and individuals, to enhance economic growth and foster peace and security, especially in the countries close to us.
One stark example of that is the EU’s close relations and strategic partnership with the Arab world, built over decades on the basis of our shared history and common interests. An important step to further this cooperation was taken recently, when the EU and the Arab League held their first ever summit in Sharm El Sheikh to boost the Euro-Arab partnership and address global challenges jointly. During the summit, both sides reaffirmed that stronger regional cooperation is key to finding solutions to common challenges. The Leaders of Europe and the Arab World agreed to promote peace in the world and in the region, and in particular peace between Israelis and Palestinians. On this particular issue, the EU has worked in sync with Arab states, stressing its firm position on the two-state solution as the only way to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

In Jordan this partnership is most apparent. It is a partnership that has been growing since 1979, 40 years ago, when the EU decided to open its Delegation in Amman in order to promote ties in all sectors and support the Kingdom's economic development. Since 2002, this partnership has been enshrined in our Association Agreement, which is built on our common values and aims at promoting our political and economic relations.

This association has been a cornerstone in identifying the key priorities that build our partnership. They include cooperation on regional stability and security, including working hand in hand on the Middle-East Peace Process and in finding a political solution to the Syria crisis. We strongly believe in Jordan’s significant role in promoting stability, moderation and inter-faith tolerance in the Middle East.

Given the economic challenges that Jordan faces, the most important priority today lies in promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development based on knowledge and innovation, leading to the creation of more jobs for all Jordanians—women and youth in particular.

Another priority, fully in line with the Association Agreement, aims at strengthening democratic governance, the rule of law and human rights. Emphasis is placed on our work with both the Government and civil society to promote freedom of expression; freedom of association and women's rights and empowerment in political, economic and public life.

The priorities of our partnership are closely aligned with the Government's Renaissance / Nahda plan for 2019-2020. EU projects support many of the plan's concrete actions under its three main pillars, from improving education and health services, to promoting investment and trade as well as empowering the judiciary and developing active citizenship.

The EU's enduring partnership with Jordan, an example of how Europe can cooperate strategically with an Arab country, demonstrates how many challenges we share and how our cooperation can help promote peace and prosperity in the region for the benefit of all Jordanians, Arabs and Europeans.

*By H.E. Andrea Matteo Fontana, Ambassador of the EU to Jordan

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