EU Policies towards the MENA Region


With the “Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity” of March 2011, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy initiated the launching of a policy taking its point of departure in changing realities in the Middle East, which, as it said in the document, reflected a “profound transformation process and will have lasting consequences not only for the people and countries of the region but also for the rest of the world and the EU in particular.” The document has since then been followed by several other policy documents on behalf of the EU, together presenting (as one of the documents was called) “A New Response to a Changing Neighbourhood”.

The new EU policies emphasize that the transition processes in the MENA region have affected the Arab states in very different ways. The more complex and heterogeneous southern Mediterranean challenges the EU in new ways, calling for a rethinking of the European policies, which show greater flexibility dealing with the specific and differentiated needs of the southern partners. The EU has declared that the new approach, based on a review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, should be built on conditionality as the overarching principle. Thus the built-in notion of “more for more” underlines that “the more and the faster a country progresses in its internal reforms, the more support it will get from the EU.” The EU policies have emphasized “deep democracy”, a partnership based on a thriving civil society, media freedom and human rights dialogue, but also insists on continued political and security cooperation. Furthermore the EU policies focus on a wide range of areas, which include support for economic and social development, trade and sector cooperation, migration and the building of partnerships, as it recently could can be seen in a EU-Commission Press Release of 21 November, 2013: “EU boosts support to democratic reforms and development in the Southern Neighbourhood”, where an assistance package of €476 was adopted to foster development and cooperation with the southern partner countries.

Taking its starting point of departure in ongoing EU activities in Mediterranean countries in a comparative perspective this conference will discuss the regional cooperation and the engagements between the EU and states, institutions and organizations in the southern Mediterranean. The conference will analyze and discuss agreements, programmes and projects based in countries. Furthermore the conference will discuss the wider theoretical perspectives in the EU policies in the light of the developments in the MENA-region over the last years.

The workshop will bring together researchers from Middle Eastern and European universities and think tanks for the purpose of discussing the significant new development in the five Middle Eastern states and the ways in which they affect EU-Middle Eastern cooperation (or lack of cooperation). It is the ambition to discuss the issues related to the above mentioned developments aiming at publishing the results of the conference in international academic journals.

Furthermore it is the intention to establish a research cooperation programme between the Center for Strategic Studies at University of Jordan and the Center for Contemporary Middle East Studies at University of Southern Denmark with a focus on EU-Middle Eastern relations.

To view the full program, click here.

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