MEETING OF THE DEFENCE MINISTERS
OF THE COUNTRIES PARTICIPATING IN THE
(Cagliari, 9 - 10 December 2007)
The "5+5 Initiative" is a forum of cooperation where defence and security matters are discussed. First launched in 2004, it sees the participation of ten Western Mediterranean nations, namely Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia.
Through practical activities and a permanent exchange of ideas and experience, the "5+5 Initiative" aims at enhancing mutual understanding and trust in order to cope with security-challenging issues in the region.
From the very beginning, this programme has enjoyed full consensus about cooperation initiatives, working practices - i.e. seminars and experts working groups focused on defining common operating procedures for the cooperation initiatives of concern -, and roadmaps based on a spirit of participation supported by full clearness and consensus. In just three years, the investigation about requirements evolved into a set of factual activities and joint air and naval exercises.
Practically speaking, three major cooperation fields or dimensions have been identified so far, notably:
- the contribution of Armed Forces to maritime security, which includes - among other things - the activities related to search and rescue, prevention and fight against illegal trafficking and fight against marine pollution;
- the contribution of Armed Forces to Civil Protection, with special reference to responding to grave natural disasters caused by men, supporting the military medical service, and fighting against locusts;
- air security, since the exchange of information among the military about air traffic - which can complement the civilian air traffic control networks - allows for defensive measures to be suitably prepared in case of improper use of air spaces.
The initiative is, by its nature, open to new cooperation fields.
As a matter of fact, with the beginning of training activities developed at various levels, "Education" is becoming the fourth cooperation field.
The number of successful initiatives has grown over the last couple of years: four have been recorded in 2005, 14 in 2006, and 20 in 2007.
Defence has been involved in the Western Mediterranean "5+5 Initiative" since 19 November 2004. On that date, the Steering Committee convened informally for the first time and approved the Italian proposal about the initiative, its scope and working methodology, and the Action Plan for 2005. The Steering Committee is responsible to the Ministers for managing and supervising the decisions agreed on an annual basis.
On 21 December 2004 in Paris, the Ministers of Defence of the ten countries issued a Declaration of Intents that sanctioned the official start of the "5+5 Initiative" and gave green light to the Action Plan for the following year.
On 29 September 2007 in Évora (Portugal), the Ministers of Defence of the European Union met the Ministers of Defence of the five North African countries that participate in the "5+5 Initiative", thus reaffirming the importance of the latter as a model of cooperation and a test bench for new experiences.
Italy holds the rotating chairmanship for 2007. Countries chair the forum according to the alphabetical order of their names in English.