New Special Representative for the Southern Mediterranean
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and
Security Policy Catherine Ashton
and Special Representative Bernardino León
© European Union, 2011
Spanish diplomat Bernardino León Gross is the new European Union Special Representative for the Southern Mediterranean, appointed by the Council on 18 July. His task is to strengthen the EU's political role in North African and Middle Eastern countries and ensure the coherence of EU action in relation to the region.
The post Mr León is taking up is a new one, created in the wake of the Arab spring to support transition to democracy in the EU's southern neighbourhood. "Europe has to be there," said the Spanish diplomat after his appointment.
The Special Representative will perform his tasks in close contact with all parties involved in democratic reform. "It is more for these countries to tell us what to do, and for us to accompany them," he said.
He will work in close coordination with international partners such as the African Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Bernardino León will also contribute to the work of the recently established Task Force for the Southern Mediterranean, which will act as a focal point for financial assistance to support political transformation in the region. The Task Force will bring together expertise from the European External Action Service, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other international financial institutions.
With more than 20 years of experience in diplomacy, Mr León has dedicated most of his career to the Arab world. Between 1997 and 2001, he worked with the first European Union Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Miguel Ángel Moratinos. Before his appointment as Special Representative, Mr León was Secretary-General at the office of the Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and main foreign policy adviser to the Prime Minister.
European Neighbourhood Policy (on Europa server)
A partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean (pdf)