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A shy, very shy Arab turn in European politics

Flag of the Libyan Revolution hoisted over the Libyan Embassy in Malta (Credit: Times of Malta)

The 27 heads of state and government of the European Union found on their table a communication from the European Commission on the new partnership “ for democracy and shared prosperity” that Europe must link with the countries of the southern shore of the Mediterranean. “The desire to organize free, fair and appropriately controlled elections will constitute the condition of membership in the partnership.” A partnership which symbolizes for the European executive long-term action with regard to the events affecting the Mediterranean region. A little more money on the table, conditional on more democracy and respect for human rights but a policy of assistance to the rule of law and security which is in its infancy to say the least.

A little more money...

The partnership innovates in the new use of certain funds. With the envelope of 4 billion euros, already available within the framework of the European Neighborhood Instrument, nearly 6 billion euros could be allocated, in the future, to the region, coming from the European Investment Bank (with the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Facility = 1 billion) and a new loan envelope of 1 billion Euros to be approved by the 27. The EBRD, which is not currently present in the countries of the southern Mediterranean, could also expand its operations by modifying its statutes and therefore the agreement of its shareholders (61 countries, EU and EIB). Rather than a new envelope, there is recycling. But above all, stricter conditioning of funds than before.

… but above all a more important condition (democracy and human rights)

This partnership will no longer be based on relatively vague criteria. But from a “ minimum set of criteria against which the results obtained will be evaluated”. " The will to organize free, fair and appropriately supervised elections will constitute the condition for joining the partnership. » An “enhanced political dialogue” will be initiated, bilaterally, at all levels, as soon as “local conditions permit, with particular emphasis on human rights and accountability on the political plan. »

Consequences for security policy

This partnership also means – explains the Commission communication – “closer cooperation” within the framework of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and “a greater number of joint actions in international fora” on issues of common interest. The EU continues “to be committed to the peaceful settlement of conflicts existing within States and between States in the region and to encourage it ».

Download the communication

Commentary: a strategic oversight, a political error!

It can be noted that in this partnership, although established by both the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, nothing concrete is mentioned in terms of security partnership. The African peace initiative in particular is completely absent. Likewise, assistance or strengthening of the rule of law, security sector reforms as undertaken in Congo or Somalia, or with the training cycle Amina Africa / Eurorecamp is completely absent.

An absence which is not justifiable in view of the evolution of the African situation and the strategic interest of these questions. This is a strategic error in my opinion. There will be no development without security and no security without development, repeat all officials familiar with the region. We have the impression that the Commission and the High Representative have lost sight of this axiom.

NB: Written with the help of Maxence Peniguet

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).