31 Jan 2012

An Arab Springboard for EU Foreign Policy?

Sven Biscop / Rosa Balfour / Michael Emerson

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The EU has not been perceived as reacting very rapidly or effectively to the so-called Arab Spring. Events do appear to validate the idea underpinning the European Security Strategy (ESS) and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP): only where governments guarantee to their citizens security, prosperity, freedom and equality, can peace and stability last – otherwise, people will revolt. But in practice, in its southern neighbourhood the EU has acted in precisely the opposite manner, so the Arab Spring is occurring in spite of rather than thanks to EU policy. The ENP stands at a crossroads therefore: Can a new start be made? Which instruments and, in times of austerity, which means can the EU apply to consolidate democratization? And, finally, can the EU continue to wage an ENP without addressing the hard security dimension, especially as the US seem to be withdrawing from crisis management in the region – or shall it continue to leave that to others?

In this joint publication, the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Egmont and the European Policy Centre (EPC), address some of the key dimensions of the EU’s engagement with the Mediterranean region. Michael Emerson is Senior Research Fellow at CEPS; Sven Biscop is Director of the Europe in the World programme at Egmont, the Royal Institute for International Affairs; and Rosa Balfour is Senior Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre (EPC).