THERE is no way that the “Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean” is not going to be called just the Club Med, so we might as well do so from the start. The longer name for the new organisation launched by President Sarkozy in Paris on Sunday recognises that it is built on an earlier attempt to bring EU and non-EU Mediterranean countries together. The Barcelona Process did a few good things but never had the impetus that Sarkozy and his co-chairman, President Mubarak of Egypt will give their Union. It is easy to find potential flaws in this loose association of 43 nations with one thing in common -- that the waters of the Mediterranean lap on to their shores. Whether that is enough to produce real economic and political dividends, we shall have to wait to see, but it would be churlish not to recognise the dynamism and commitment that President Sarkozy has shown. There were some early dividends on Sunday, for instance in the rare presence of President Assad of Syria and in the renewal of contacts between Prime MinIster Olmert of Israel and the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Euphoria is always in plentiful supply when something as big and hopeful as this is inaugurated. Whether it will work in the long term will depend on its continuing leadership but there is little doubt that the 800 million people who can claim membership are entitled to have high hopes of this Club Med.