For the past years, the Council of Europe and the European Union have been working closely with beneficiaries from the Southern Mediterranean region.
On a bilateral scale, the first cooperation priorities documents (Neighbourhood Cooperation Priorities, NPCs) were approved in 2012 for the period 2012-2014, in tandem with Moroccan, Tunisian and Jordanian authorities (see also Neighbourhood Cooperation), who identified a set of priorities in the field of human rights, rule of law and democracy.
Concrete results have been achieved; technical cooperation and political dialogue have been enhanced under the Neighbourhood Partnership documents agreed on with Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan for 2015-2017. In March 2018, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the Neighbourhood Partnerships 2018-2021, new frameworks that identify new priorities for action specific to Morocco and Tunisia respectively.
The Southern Neighbourhood scope encompasses not only bilateral activities but also regional issues. Regional activities are open to Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Palestine* in the framework of the South Programme.
The Programme’s current phase, South Programme III (2018-2020), answers to needs jointly identified with partners of the region and builds upon the achievements and success of its first (2012-2014) and second (2015-2017) editions, as well as on the results of the Neighbourhood partnerships with Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan.
The South Programme III specifically aims at:
- Pursuing the creation of a common legal space between Europe and the Southern Mediterranean through the promotion of key Council of Europe conventions, partial agreements and European and international standards;
- Providing institutional support to democratic governance and independent instances, legal expertise, networking and capacity building;
- Promoting the expansion of existing relevant networks between Europe and the Southern Mediterranean and support the creation of new inter and intraregional networks;
- Combating violence against women using Council of Europe relevant standards, tools and mechanisms as a transversal priority.
Voluntary contributions from Council of Europe member States (Norway, Monaco, Estonia, France, Liechtenstein, Turkey, etc.) and other organisations, mainly aimed at Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan, have been used to finance other cooperation activities such as fighting violence against women and children, promoting freedom of expression and media freedom, or youth cooperation. These voluntary contributions constitute an important source of funding, 5 672 030€ were destined to cooperation with the Neighbourhood (southern Mediterranean and Central Asia) in 2017, of which 86% were allocated to Southern Mediterranean beneficiaries.
*This designation shall not be construed as a designation of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of Council of Europe member States on this issue.