The first co-operation priorities documents (Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities, NPCs) were approved in 2012 for the period 2012-2014. They were prepared in close co-operation with Moroccan, Tunisian and Jordanian authorities. These strategic framework documents identify co-operation priorities in the field of human rights, rule of law and democracy.
Technical co-operation and political dialogue have been enhanced under the Neighbourhood Partnership documents agreed on with Morocco and Tunisia (2015-2017 and 2018-2021) as well as Jordan (2015-2017). In November 2021 the Committee of Ministers adopted the Neighbourhood Partnerships with Morocco and Tunisia for 2022-2025 identifying priorities for action specific to Morocco and Tunisia respectively (see also Neighbourhood Co-operation).
Tangible results have already been achieved. The common legal space between the region and Europe is progressively expanding, through increased commitments of Southern Mediterranean countries towards Council of Europe Conventions open to non-member States. The use of Council of Europe standards in the revision and drafting of legislation is also increasing, as illustrated by the support and guidance provided by Council of Europe in Tunisia, where the Parliament adopted a law relating to violence against women inspired by the provisions of the Istanbul Convention. South-South and North-South networks have also expanded, such as the UniDem Med Campus (University for Democracy), which allows senior civil servants from the region to exchange knowledge and experience on the topic of modernising public administration. In the area of combating economic crime, Egypt have acceded to the Šibenik Network of Corruption Prevention Agencies in 2020, following the accession of Jordan, Morocco, Palestine* and Tunisia in 2019.
Through bilateral and regional joint programme, the Council of Europe and the European Union have been working closely with beneficiaries from region for the past decade. Since 2012, the South Programme, co-financed by the European Union and the Council of Europe and implemented by the latter, provides a regional framework for co-operation completed by bilateral targeted actions. It has allowed the Council of Europe to work with Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Palestine* with a view to promoting respect for human rights and the rule of law, and to enhancing democratic governance in accordance with European and international standards. The fifth phase of the programme “Regional Support to Reinforce Human Rights, Rule of Law and Democracy in the Southern Mediterranean” started on 1st September 2022.1 It builds upon the achievements and success of its first (2012-2014), second (2015-2017), third (2018-2020) and fourth (2020-2022) phases, as well as on the results of the Neighbourhood Partnerships with Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan.
The regional joint programme CyberSouth started in July 2017. It covers the Southern Mediterranean region, with a special focus on Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia. It aims at strengthening legislation and the institutional capacities on cybercrime and electronic evidence in the region in line with human rights and rule of law requirements.
In addition to European Union funding, voluntary contributions from several Council of Europe member States (Norway, Monaco, Estonia, France, Liechtenstein, Turkey, Spain, Cyprus, Malta etc.) and from the Aga Khan Development Network, mainly aimed at Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan, have backed co-operation in the areas such as fighting violence against women and children, promoting freedom of expression and media freedom, or youth.
Since July 2021, the Council of Europe regional Office in Tunisia oversees and co-ordinates the co-operation with the Southern Mediterranean region.
* 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.
1 South Programme V “Regional Support to Reinforce Human Rights, Rule of Law and Democracy in the Southern Mediterranean”, total budget: €5,556 million (EU: 89.99%, CoE: 10.01%), September 2022 – August 2025.