There are 43 nations at the summit, including all southern Mediterranean countries except Libya – Colonel Gaddafi called it an “international minefield.”
Others take a different view, and hope the summit will inject new life into co-operation between the European Union and Mediterranean countries.
One of the hottest of topics under discussion is immigration. The French junior minister for Human Rights, Rama Yade, said: “It’s one of the most important points because the sea acts like a bridge between Europe and the southern Mediterranean. The two sides are very close to each other, and of course we have to discuss and debate to find common solutions to common problems.”
Among the tangible projects the summit’s leaders hope will bear fruit are proposals to exploit North Africa’s plentiful sunshine for solar power, and plans to clean up the Mediterranean Sea.