Working Paper 39

Europe and the Arab Revolutions. From a Weak to a Proactive Response to a Changing Neighborhood

Sally Khalifa Isaac  -  May 2012               Download

 

Abstract

This research paper attempts to assess European responses to the Arab uprisings and, in particular, the introduced change in the EU policy towards its Southern Neighborhood. In specific terms, to what extent do security and strategic considerations still constitute the basis in the EU’s “fundamental revision” of its policy in the Southern Neighborhood? And to what extent is the need to safeguard security and strategic interests undermining an authentic EU role in building deep democracy in the region? The presented analyses provide a profound scrutiny and assessment of the new version of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), an empirical evidence of persisting security considerations post-2011 in Euro-Arab relations, and a more elaborated vision of future Euro-Arab relations, attempting to balance between three considerations: security, democracy, and governance. The paper argues that the EU response to revolutionary events in the Arab region has been weak and that the new version of the ENP results hollow. Wide disagreements among European capitals on how to react to Arab uprisings, the sudden influx of illegal migrants and refugees, increased energy concerns, and the rise of political Islam, especially in radical forms, appears to be the key reasons behind this weak response. The study advocates that a proactive and agile EU role in the Arab region post-2011 should not be considered as derived from a moral stance. Rather, it is urgently required as it is in Europe’s own interest. The historic events in the Arab region suggest that the EU should not merely revise its own ENP with the Southern Mediterranean. However, it should develop a comprehensive vision and an all-encompassing approach to the entire Arab region, from the West Mediterranean to the Gulf. Finally, this paper provides a number of policy recommendations, attempting to offer a frame for such a vision.