The establishment of a free trade area by the year 2010, economic co‐operation and financial assistance are key elements of the Euro‐Mediterranean partnership. However, these activities have been linked to significant, and more often than not negative, impacts on the environment. Evidence based on the experience of other free trade agreements bears this out. The Barcelona Declaration and the Euro‐Mediterranean association agreements signed so far acknowledge that the economic and social development that is pursued must be sustainable and balanced and make a prima facie commitment to the integration of the protection of the environment into economic policy. In the face, though, of the acute environmental problems of the Mediterranean region, both at sea and inland, this commitment needs to be strengthened. The implementation process of the Barcelona Declaration offers an opportunity to go beyond the existing environmental protection programmes and to effectively address trade‐related environmental threats.