01 Nov 2002

The European Union and Democracy in the Arab-Muslim World

Richard Youngs

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Democracy should be conceived as an important element of European strategic policy towards North Africa and the Middle East, but the complex prerequisites to its stability-enhancing potentiality also recognised. While EU policy has come to incorporate such a perspective, its approach to democracy promotion in the Arab-Muslim world has remained tentative and nebulous in its conceptualisation of how stable and sustainable political change can best be encouraged. A summary of European democracy and human rights aid projects reveals the notable extent to which these have expanded, but also raises concerns over imbalances in the profile of EU political aid. In sum, this calls for a number of changes to EU policy that broaden the understanding of how different levels of policy instruments can dovetail together in a more comprehensive and sophisticated approach to democracy promotion.