When Nicolas Sarkozy first evoked the idea of a Mediterranean Union, is was to include only those countries with a coastline on the Med.
After opposition from northern Europe, particularly Germany, Sarkozy had to invite all 27 EU members and water down the project’s ambitions.
Some critics say it is little different from the existing Euro-Med partnership, known as the Barcelona Process.
One particularly vocal opponent, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, has called it a “minefield” that seeks to bring Arab countries under European control. He is the only one of the 44 leaders on the guestlist to have refused his invitation.
Other Arab countries held reservations about sitting around the same table as the Israeli Prime Minister but they still took up the offer.
And Turkey has overcome its initial fears that the Mediterranean Union was just Sarkozy’s way of keeping the door to the European Union firmly shut.
Other critics wonder if the new Union’s destiny is just to become another talking shop.