EU leaders approved a controversial French proposal for a Mediterranean Union aimed at strengthening cooperation with countries from Morocco to Turkey, the EU's Slovenian presidency said Thursday.
"The project received wide support," Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa told reporters after the first day of an EU summit in Brussels.
"It is now a question of working on this in different forums. It's now a question of doing what is needed so that this project can see the light of day," he said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy raised the plan during last year's election campaign, but complaints from Germany saw the grand project watered down.
Germany had feared that he would try to use it as a counter to Berlin's growing influence in central Europe as the EU expands, by limiting the club to southern European countries.
"Tomorrow morning, the decision will be formally taken to transform the Barcelona Process into a Union for the Mediterranean. That was decided unanimously tonight," Sarkozy said at a separate press conference.
Launched in 1995 as a framework for political, economic and social ties, the Barcelona Process has regularly been thwarted in its aims by confrontations between Israel and Arab countries.