Speaking after the official opening of the IT fair 'Cebit' in Hanover, Sarkozy and Merkel agreed that the Union's dealings with non-EU countries along the Mediterranean coast need a new basis, with Merkel describing the EU's activities in the region as a "central element" of the EU foreign policy.
Sarkozy originally intended to officially launch the initiative at a summit involving just the 10 potential member countries in Paris on 13 July, with the other EU members not participating until a day later. Following the German-French agreement, all the EU member states will now be present at the creation of the new project.
France takes over the EU presidency on 1 July 2008.
The French proposal to create a Mediterranean Union has faced heavy opposition from Germany and reportedly even caused the postponement of a bilateral meeting between Merkel and Sarkozy, which was scheduled for 3 March.
Sarkozy has particularly highlighted the issue of energy supply as one main pillar of the new union, with France recently concluding deals with Libya and Algeria on transfering nuclear energy technology for civilian use. In return, France would be granted access to the countries' gas supplies (see EurActiv 16/07/07, EurActiv 26/07/07).