Muriel Asseburg

The EU in the Middle East and North Africa

Helpless Bystander Rather Than Effective Democracy Promoter or Stabilizing Force

SWP Comment 2014/C 50, November 2014, 4 Pages

In 2011, European politicians, diplomats, media, and publics enthusiastically embraced the so-called Arab Spring. The EU pledged to generously support trans-formation processes initiated in the region with a “3 M” approach, which would combine monetary support, market access, and increased mobility, as well as through a reinvigorated European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). Yet, Europeans have not lived up to these promises. Against the backdrop of the Middle East and North Africa descending into ever greater levels of chaos and violence, the EU and its member states have been largely reduced to being bystanders, dealing with the symptoms of crises rather than impacting – let alone shaping – the path of developments. Yet, in view of an increasingly reluctant US government to provide regional stability, Europe has no choice but to address instability in its southern neighborhood. To be more effective actors, Europeans should revisit their priorities, underlying assumptions, policy frameworks, and instruments.

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