Outside the borders of Europe, the Commission is building a close partnership with its neighbors to the east and south. This cooperation develops within the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) . A significant part of both partnerships has been devoted to public diplomacy type activities with participating countries.
The ENP is a recent initiative, which aims to expand EU presence and engagement with its “new neighbors" after the last round of enlargement and strengthen further the relations established earlier under Euromed. According to Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, “The European Neighborhood Policy is a new policy that invites our neighbors to the East and to the South to share in the peace, stability and prosperity that we enjoy in the European Union and which aims to create a ring of friends around the borders of the new enlarged EU. We share a past and many common interests with our southern and eastern neighbors, from trade to cultural exchanges, from migration issues to environmental cooperation. Across the Mediterranean, the ENP will reinforce and build on the cooperation that we have developed over nearly 10 years of the Barcelona process. For our neighbors in the east, the European Neighborhood Policy shows that we are moving towards a new and closer relationship, so as to avoid the emergence of new dividing lines on our continent. […] It will be a key vehicle for promoting our European values, and sharing the fruits of the EU’s enlargement to the benefit of our citizens and our neighbors." The ENP encompasses Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine. One of the four main areas of cooperation within the policy is the development of people-to-people contacts. The ENP could potentially play a central role in a future EU public diplomacy strategy with these countries, especially if it draws upon the rich experience gained in regional cooperation on the basis of Euromed.
Euromed or the so called Barcelona Process marked its 10th anniversary with a summit on 27 November 2005. It represents a broad mechanism for public diplomacy type activities. Philip Fiske de Gouveia and Hester Plumridge describe it as “arguably the greatest single public diplomacy initiative ever conceived." The partnership provides for a wide framework of relations – political, economic, environmental, social and cultural.
Within this framework the EU works on a bilateral level with each of the partners – Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey; and on a regional level addressing common problems and goals in the Mediterranean. The Social, Cultural and Human Partnership represents the public diplomacy dimension within Euromed. It is again an example of a two-way process of dialogue and cooperation. Its goal is "the rapprochement between peoples through a social, cultural and human partnership aimed at encouraging understanding between cultures and exchanges between civil societies." To serve this purpose various programs have been instituted.
The goal of the Euromed Audiovisual Program is to “contribute to mutual understanding between the peoples of the EU and the southern Mediterranean region by highlighting their common values and the richness of the region’s audiovisual and cultural diversity. The programme supports regional projects in the field of television and cinema, particularly in the following areas: preservation of archives, production and coproduction and distribution and circulation of audiovisual products." For instance, as part of Euromed Audiovisual, a 3-year project called “Cinema Med" was initiated in March of 2000. The first phase of this project introduced a festival of Arabic films from the Mediterranean region into seven European cities from Palermo to Edinburgh. The purpose of the festival was to serve as a forum between directors and the European audience and thus provide a window to the Arabic world and help the distribution of Arabic films through Europe. The second phase was a screenplay seminar organized by two European authors for two Arabic Universities – Marrakesh and Beirut. The last phase was dedicated to the work of the famous Egyptian filmmaker Salah Abou Seif. Its purpose was to use European and Arabic film archives in order to restore and preserve the work of the author.
The Euromed Heritage Program is “a strategy that would turn [cultural] heritage into a catalyst for cooperation throughout the Mediterranean." It was developed in 1996 and is aimed at uniting the 37 Mediterranean partners in the preservation and common appreciation of the region’s extraordinary historic and cultural heritage. In addition, through projects such as Museums with no Frontiers: an Example of Learning about Each Other, the Euromed heritage program helped promote tourism and educate the European publics about their Mediterranean neighbors’ culture.
The Euromed Youth Action Program focuses on youth exchanges, training and voluntary service (in NGOs for example). It “aims to facilitate the integration of young people into social and professional life and boost the development of a genuine civil society in all Mediterranean partners. It is also a key tool to promote communication, mutual tolerance and respect among young people across the region." The program has been very popular, since over 8 000 young people have participated by 2003. In addition, a sufficient portion of the MEDA (the financial framework for implementing Euromed) budget is dedicated to promoting higher education exchanges with all the Mediterranean partners. In this respect, the EU is employing its educational program Tempus-MED .
NGOs are involved in a variety of projects under Euromed. One such initiative is the Euromed Civil Forum - a platform for non-governmental organizations in the region on the subjects of human rights, youth, women, volunteerism, migration, and the environment. Another important civil society initiative is a Seminar on the Status of Women in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. It “aims to help promote women’s rights and the democratic development of North African society by strengthening civil society organizations."
Good examples of the way Euromed engages with society in partnership countries represent the Commission’s initiatives in Egypt such as the Arab Documentary Workshop Project – Arab TV Program on Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the Euro-med Youth Awards in Cairo .
In an effort to further the democratization of the region, the EU is also planning to launch an Arabic-language television channel. The channel would be operated by Euronews, “the European news channel," and would introduce European ideas and the EU perspective on international news in the Mediterranean and North Africa.Euronews has already gained experience in such broadcasting since it used to have an Arabic service for two years in the end of the 1990s. An Arabic-language broadcast informing on the every-day political life and functioning of the EU institutions would not only aim at reforming the region but also build up an image for the European Union in the Mediterranean.
Chief mediators of the Euromed policies in partner countries are the Commission’s Delegations. In addition to their ever-increasing role participation in managing the policies of the Barcelona process, the delegations have an important public diplomacy responsibility. They “play an active role in providing information on the partnership, and in promoting cultural activities, like dance festivals, film festivals, and other events that contribute to promoting awareness and understanding of different cultures."