The idea to establish a free trade area in the Mediterranean has been taking ground since its initial proposal in 1995, even if the 2010 deadline has not been met and has been recently postponed. The establishment of a free trade area represents the core proposal around which various political projects have been pursued over the last years: the constitution of a Euro-Mediterranean partnership, the more recent proposal for a Union for the Mediterranean, the growing concern from the European Union toward its so called “neighbouring” countries and the number of programmes that have been launched or proposed within the European Neighbourhood Policy. Each of those political projects are framed within different viewpoints on how Euro-Mediterranean relations should be and how they should be managed: what is the extent and scope of those relations; what is the role of economic versus institutional, cultural or social relations; which country or region should be involved and how; etc. Each political project is founded upon alternative conceptualizations of the Mediterranean that carry their own meanings and implications, emphasizes different (geo)political priorities and is based upon different narratives and imaginaries. The article provides a critical reading of some of these conceptualizations, in order to define a partial lexicon of key terms regarding EU’s policies toward the Mediterranean, with a specific focus on the role that geography is supposed to play in each case. By referring to key political texts and with the aid of the vast literature that have been produced on the topic in the last years (see the bibliography), the aim is to see how geographical notions and representations (e.g. scale, region, place, etc.) combine with the various contrasting or complementary rationales that the European Union is pursuing in the Mediterranean and to try to explain, from this particular perspective, some of their limits and contradictions.
Free Trade Area / Celata, Filippo. - STAMPA. - (2012), pp. 329-345.