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Short and Medium-Term Priority

Environmental Action Programme (SMAP)


1. The Euro-Mediterranean Conference which was held in Barcelona in November 1995 adopted a Declaration establishing a new Partnership between the European Union and 12 Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Partners. 1 Its overall objective is to contribute through enhanced and regular dialogue, free trade and co-operation, to guarantee peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Accordingly, the Euro-Med encompasses three different aspects: i) a strengthened political dialogue; ii) the development of economic and financial co-operation; iii) greater emphasis on the social, cultural and human dimension.

2. The sustainable development objective and its environmental dimension have been fully integrated in the new Euro-Mediterranean Partnership texts. Participants at the Conference emphasized their interdependence with regard to environment, the need for a regional approach, increased co-operation, better co-ordination of existing multilateral programmes. They recognised the importance of reconciling economic development with environmental protection, of integrating environmental concerns into the relevant aspects of economic policy and of mitigating the negative environmental consequences which might result. They confirmed their attachment to the Barcelona Convention and the Mediterranean Action Plan.

3. The Commission was entrusted in the Barcelona Declaration with the co-ordination of the preparation of a Short and Medium-term Priority Environmental Action Programme (SMAP). A participatory approach was foreseen with the involvement of all Partners in this preparation from the start, through meetings of Euro-Med environmental Correspondents, designated for this purpose within the relevant Environment Ministries. Consultations have also taken place, with the Mediterranean Action Plan ( MAP ) Co-ordination Unit, with METAP, major NGOs with activity in the region, and other relevant civil society organisations.


1. As foreseen by the Barcelona Declaration, the Euro-Mediterranean Partners undertake to establish a short and medium-term priority action programme, including in connection with combatting desertification, and to concentrate appropriate technical and financial support on those actions. According to the Barcelona Work Programme, the main areas for action should include integrated management of water, soil and coastal areas, management of waste, prevention and combatting of air pollution and pollution of the sea, natural heritage, landscape and site conservation and management; Mediterranean forest protection, in particular through the prevention and control of erosion, soil degradation, forest fires and combatting desertification; the SMAP should also promote the transfer of Community experience in the field of financing techniques, legislation and environmental monitoring and integration of environmental concerns in all policies...

2. All interested Parties involved in the procedure, accepted unanimously the concept of a prioritisation approach for the Short and Medium-term Action Programme. The SMAP will :

3. Given the fact that all the issues mentioned in the Barcelona Work Programme are very important, it is understood that :


1. The Environment Programme within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership is intended :

2. In this context, the SMAP has as particular objectives :


1. The selection of the priority fields of action for the SMAP are based on the following criteria:

2. The SMAP, being a framework Programme, does not include specific criteria for individual programmes and projects. The latter should, however, in a general way, when related to priority issues, meet the following supplementary requirements as appropriate :

3. To ensure its satisfactory implementation, the SMAP needs to be based on transparent procedures and to provide for close co-operation at all stages of all interested partners, especially local communities acting through their local authorities and representative organisations of civil society.


On the basis of the above indications and also taking into account the existing data and knowledge of the problems and work in other fora (notably in the context of MAP and MCSD), the following five fields of action are suggested, with the understanding that duplication with other relevant international instruments should be avoided and that coherence should always be sought. Two of these fields cover major sectoral issues ( water, wastes), one covers specific issues of an urgent nature ( hot spots ) while the fourth and fifth ones offer the opportunity of addressing intersectoral problems in an integrated way in specific - often sensitive or even vulnerable - geographical areas ( coastal management, desertification ). The important objective of protecting the biodiversity, having an intersectoral character, is dealt with under at least three of the selected fields of action.

1. Integrated Water management

The water sector is a key area for the protection of the environment and sustainable development in the Mediterranean. Water is a scarce and fragile resource, widely exploited and unequally distributed throughout the region. Therefore, supply aspects need to be taken seriously. Shortage, salinisation and overexploitation ( often for irrigation reasons ) leading to considerable losses, are different facets of an irrational use and management of this precious natural resource. Pollution and mismanagement of water can have negative effects on health, on economic development and on the overall protection of the environment in the region. It can lead to soil degradation, as well as to loss of precious wetlands and biodiversity.

In line with the approach established by the Marseilles Euro-Mediterranean Water Conference, action to promote sustainable water management must be based on a global and integrated approach capable of anticipating future problems and aiming at the increase and diversification of supply and the sustainable management of water demand. The Euro-Mediterranean information system on know-how in the water management sector, the establishment of which was decided by the Marseilles Water Conference, could be used to spread information on available water management techniques and new technologies.

The most urgent actions to be undertaken in this sector are :

2. Waste management

Due to the combined pressure of industrial, touristic and demographic developments, and the concentration of populations and economic activities in urban and coastal areas, the waste problem is becoming a major concern. Regardless its nature (domestic, industrial, hazardous etc , liquid or solid), it is generating health problems and unpleasant living conditions and is hampering sustainable development. Actions - often of a preventive character - with tangible results could be completed within reasonable timespans, with the aim of contributing efficiently to a sustainable management of wastes, including reduction of their volume, recycling or reuse, safe transfer and appropriate treatment.

The most urgent actions to be undertaken in this sector are:

3. Hot Spots

In many areas, pollution and environmental degradation is such that immediate action should be undertaken. Each Partner will be free, within a broad understanding of the concept, to designate one or several priority Hot Spots (urgent problems in urban areas, industrial sites, or sensitive natural areas...).

Programmes and projects should reflect an integrated approach for remediation of the situation. To this end, the appropriate use of all relevant material and guidance stemming from work carried out within the MAP, the Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development ( MCSD ) and other international fora is encouraged.

The most urgent actions to be undertaken in this sector could be:

4. Integrated coastal zone management

More than 50 % of the Mediterranean countries’ population is concentrated on the coastline. More than 30 % of the world tourism is attracted in the Mediterranean region, while there are strong trends of further increase for the next years. Existing pressures due to human activities cause enormous damage to coastal eco-systems and landscapes. Irrational practices also cause pollution problems in marine waters.

Much knowledge has been acquired in the Mediterranean region about this type of situation and there is growing awareness of the need to tackle it before it is too late. Yet, inter-institutional problems still hamper the sound and efficient management of the coastal environment.

The most urgent actions to be undertaken in this sector are:

5. Combatting Desertification

It is widely recognized nowadays that combatting desertification is urgent. This problem is very closely linked to integrated soil, plant cover and water managenent, and its expansion is threatening not only the biodiversity, including natural habitats, but also the sustainability of the production of basic goods for human life. Desertification aspects related to climate changes should be dealt with within long-term perspective frameworks.

The complexity of the issue implies appropriate planning, concrete actions and an integrated management approach. Combatting desertification will be a long-term process, but there is need for urgent action. The present SMAP will contribute to this end through pilot projects and demonstration actions, through the development and implementation of appropriate local, regional and national action plans, as well as through actions under the other selected priority areas.

Such actions and projects should aim at :


SMAP should develop a new dynamic by giving a major impulse at the national level to initiatives in the priority areas. Obviously, some activities will have to be pursued beyond the short and medium-term frame, while others scheduled for the long term would need appropriate preparation in advance. Thus, a clear link with the longer-term should be part of the SMAP from the outset, in order to ensure continuation of efforts, to avoid counterproductive developments in related sectors and to ensure that longer-term objectives can be met. Actions necessary to bring about this link in the long-term should be considered within this Programme from the start and be developed in particular in the following areas :


As stated in the Barcelona Declaration, the Partners will undertake to concentrate appropriate technical and financial support on these actions. The first responsibility for the practical implementation in this context lies with the Mediterranean Partners themselves.

In view of the seriousness of the environmental problems faced by the region, the partners will give greater priority to environmental actions within the Euro-Mediterranean

Partnership and undertake to mobilise increased resources to this end. The MEDA instrument will be an important catalyst for mobilising these resources. Furthermore, particular attention will be given to the development of horizontal supportive activities , such as training and capacity building.

For its part, the European Union is fully prepared to give support to the Programme, according to the rules of existing financial sources, in particular the MEDA instrument.

Furthermore, with the aim of supporting the Union’s co-operation policies in non-Member countries, the EIB intends to continue expanding its contribution to initiatives in the Mediterranean and assisting projects with a high environmental input. The Bank is prepared to help putting together financial packages comprising loans to assist environmental actions at local and regional scale. An important contribution can be also made through interest rate subsidies on EIB loans for environmental projects.

Partners also express their interest in getting other donors and investors, at bilateral and multilateral levels, to contribute to the same objectives and related actions.


  1. Creation of a Network of SMAP Correspondents, designated by competent Ministers of participating countries. Co-ordination will be ensured by the European Commission. Meetings will take place once a year (possibility of organising supplementary meetings when necessary).
  2. Establishment of a regular reporting system : a yearly Report on Implementation by each Partner. These Reports should be the basis for discussion at the annual Correspondents’ meeting.
  3. Provision for a review mechanism, after two years, in order to check that the Programme is on the right track and to make the necessary adjustments. The review should be made by the SMAP Correspondents and coordinated by the European Commission. Any necessary adjustments to the Programme would be submitted for adoption at ministerial level.
  4. In consultation with the Mediterranean Partners and on the basis of experience gained from environmental activities and projects/programmes in the region, the European Commission will prepare an interim report and a more detailed programme of regional activities. These documents will contribute to the preparation of the review of the SMAP and its further implementation.
  5. Provision for consultation practices, allowing also civil society organisations (including NGOs) to contribute to the implementation of SMAP, the assessment of results and any necessary modifications before decisions are made.
  6. Discussion on implementation of SMAP by the Partners whenever they meet at ministerial level.

1 Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Malta and the Palestinian Authority