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This house believes that the EU should offer a closer partnership with Mediterranean countries
This house believes that the EU should offer a closer partnership with Mediterranean countries
In 1995 the EU started an initiative called 'the Barcelona process'. The goal of this process was to create closer cooperation on a political, economic and cultural level with the non-EU countries around the Mediterranean, most notably the countries of the Maghreb (Northern Africa) and the Mashriq (Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Turkey, amongst others). This process has culminated in the 'European-Mediterranean Partnership', which had as one of its working goals to create an EU-Mediterranean free trade area.
However, in the late 2000's, this diplomatic and political process halted. French President Sarkozy thought it should continue, and during his 2008 election campaign called for a deeper and broader 'Union for the Mediterranean'. In this union, all the countries around the Mediterranean would come together to pool sovereignty on a number of issues. Most importantly, this union would exist next to, not as a part of, the European Union: EU Member States without a border along the Mediterranean were to be excluded from membership. This led to significant opposition from exactly those EU Member States which were to be excluded, amongst them Germany. Germany felt that a partnership with other countries in the Mediterranean was an excellent idea, but that it should be an EU process and thus involve all EU Member States, including northern ones without direct access to the Mediterranean.
To be sure: in the status quo, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership has been reconstituted as the "Union for the Mediterranean", which is an EU programme but also involves the League of Arab States, and focuses on 3 goals: increase contacts, increase cooperation, and make cooperation visible through certain projects. The 2008 Paris Declaration which constituted the "Union for the Mediterranean" established a rotating Presidency, institutionalized an Inter-parliamentary Assembly of all participating countries, created a Secretariat and six projects (de-pollution of the Mediterranean, Maritime and Land Highways, Civil protection, Alternative energy, Higher Education, and the Mediterranean Business Development Initiative). But many argue that this is largely a talking shop, with too many non-Mediterranean countries involved and little commitment to meaningful political and economic integration.
This casefile looks further into this matter and asks whether the EU as an actor should have a partnership with the other non-EU Mediterranean countries. Is a Euro-Mediterranean partnership worthwhile and should it be developed further in the future?
In December 2010, revolt and unrest broke out in Tunisia and Algeria. The situation rapidly proliferated and several other countries in the Middle East and North Africa were soon affected by turmoil and violence: Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, and Libya. In some of these countries, revolt ended with the fall of long-serving rulers
|Points For||Points Against|
|A partnership will be an incentive to Mediterranean countries to begin the process of democratization.||It will be dangerous for the EU to offer partnership in this moment.|
|Now it's the perfect timing for a EU-Mediterranean states partnership.||Oil is the prime interest in the relations between Mediterranean and other states.|
|A union with the Mediterranean countries will work as an economic partnership.||There can never be full cooperation between the EU and the Mediterranean states.|
|Through a union the differences between the Mediterranean countries and the EU countries will fade away.||True economic union will be rather disadvantageous for both sides.|
|A Changing Mediterranean Brings New Opportunities.||The EU offers partnership only in certain cases.|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
A partnership will be an incentive to Mediterranean countries to begin the process of democratization.
Just as the promise of EU membership was a strong incentive for post-communist countries to democratise and restructure their economies in the 1990s, the offer of a deeper partnership could spur many Eastern and Southern Mediterranean states to embrace liberal reforms. Concepts such as the rule of law, human rights, political accountability, transparent decision-making and open markets are not only necessary for fair access to the EU's enormous Single Market, they are desirable in their own right. Often they are already being campaigned for by citizens in many of the non-EU Mediterranean countries who do not enjoy their benefits at the moment, although many of their governments react repressively to such demands. As the most successful project ever to promote democracy, security and prosperity, the EU has a responsibility to find ways of extending these benefits to as many people as possible. Catherine Ashton, the foreign affairs chief of the EU has said they stand ready to help Egypt build a deep rooted democracy "I reiterated that no matter what happens in the next hours and days, the European Union stands ready to help build the deep democracy that will underpin stability for the people of Egypt"1. Only if Maghreb and Mashriq countries think the EU is serious about offering them a real economic and political partnership will their governments make positive moves to reform.Improve this
The non-EU countries around the Mediterranean will react badly to any EU attempt to bully or bribe them into "westernising". All are on different paths to reform (e.g. the economic opening of Libya before the overthrow of Gaddafi and the very different political developments in countries such as Turkey, Morocco and Lebanon). Each should be allowed to develop at its own pace, appropriate to local levels of economic and cultural development. The EU should encourage and support such changes, but should not seek to impose them; after all, many non-EU Mediterranean countries have bad memories of European colonial rule. There is also a danger that promoting "democracy" and "economic openness" with a heavy-hand will damage existing bilateral relationships in important areas such as stopping people-trafficking across the Mediterranean, promoting security and stability in the Middle East, and combating the illegal drugs trade.Improve this
Now it's the perfect timing for a EU-Mediterranean states partnership.
The changes in the political world, which occurred and are occurring at present in some Mediterranean states show that now more than ever the EU has a partner on their southern flank. The democratization of these states will make them stronger and more stable, which will be of economic and political advantage to the EU. Surely, this process will not be easy, but some of these countries already do have the basis for it.Many middle eastern states already have institutions that are similar to the representative institutions that a stable democracy needs. Arab dictators have grown adept at holding elections, setting up parliaments, constitutional courts etc. as window dressing to show either to their people or to the outside world that they are reforming and are 'democratic'. No matter how undemocratic these regimes have been the simple existence of these institutions is useful when there is a revolution as they allow some continuity and the possibility of a transition to democracy. To take Egypt as an example. Even under Mubarak it had a parliament with the Majilis Al-Sha'ab (People's Assembly) as its lower house and Majilis Al-Shura (Shura Council) as its upper house. In both houses a majority of the members are directly elected1. Egypt held elections for its parliament as recently as November 2010, these elections had very poor turnout and blatant ballot rigging while the main opposition the Muslim Brotherhood have to stand as independents2.
While these institutions may not currently be working in a democratic way they could quite easily be changed to being fully democratic. With these institutions already existing, the role of the EU is vital, because it can provide the necessary advice to achieve this reform which will start the entire democratic machine in the Middle-eastern countries. This would create the necessary checks and balances to sustain democracy over the long term. The people are used to elections and will know what to do when they have the option to vote freely, they would vote in a broad range of candidates. Many of them may be islamist but it would be democratic.Improve this
What these countries have now as an election and governance systems is not at all close to democracy. Even if people voted, this only means they know the pure technical way, but are not familiar with the principal. You need to have lived and be educated in the spirit of democracy in order to fully grasp its sense. The fake world that the suppressors in the Arabic country have created does not have anything to do with a real democratic system. The ruling party used to allow opposition candidates to run and then simply rig the elections. before adopting a new strategy of preventing the opposition from fielding any candidates at all and harassing those who did1.
While the presence of pre-existing institutions is an advantage in transitioning to a democracy, that advantage may be compromised when these institutions are largely seen as illegitimate and have not fostered a democratic political culture. Key to the development of a democratic political culture is confidence in institutions and a wilingness to accept the popular will as carried out by those institutions. While some citizens in democratic countries may consider themselves uncompromising-- compromise, the willingness to accept that you don't get everything you want, is at the very heart of what makes democracy possible.Improve this
A union with the Mediterranean countries will work as an economic partnership.
A Union for the Mediterranean is an ideal foreign policy tool for the European Union. It works just as the EU has worked for over 50 years: by creating a permanent, institutionalized dialogue, the EU can draw strategic partners into real cooperation, not just the more formal procedures of diplomacy. The end goal is to enhance the interdependence of the EU and the other Mediterranean countries so much, that they would effectively become a single economic unit where sovereignty is pooled to solve shared problems.
There are examples of such successful cooperation in an international aspect – one being the close partnership between the USA and Latin America. There again the main incentive is the economic interest, which both sides share. “The United States has implemented comprehensive bilateral or plurilateral reciprocal trade agreements with most of its important trade partners in Latin America. These include the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR)… Enhancing social stability through trade-led growth and development has been one long-term goal of FTAs, and thereby more broadly supportive of U.S. regional security goals.” 
 U.S.-Latin America Trade: Recent Trends and Policy Issues 8/02/2011 www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/98-840.pdfImprove this
The economic interdependence of the EU and other Mediterranean countries doesn't need much enhancing. Already, the EU is the biggest trading partner of the other Mediterranean countries. A Union can't do much more to increase that dependence. As to political cooperation and foreign policy: the EU itself was originally intended to be an economic union, not a political union. Giving the EU a foreign policy tool like a Union for the Mediterranean is a step closer towards a European super-state, and should therefore in and of itself be rejected.Improve this
Through a union the differences between the Mediterranean countries and the EU countries will fade away.
A Union for the Mediterranean is a necessary foreign policy tool for the EU: it's the best way of dispelling the notion of a 'clash of civilizations'. By drawing the Islamic countries around the Mediterranean into a permanent dialogue on specific policy issues and increasing contacts and cooperation, policy makers and opinion leaders will get to know each other better, and learn how to see each other as partners, not enemies. A Union for the Mediterranean will eventually lead to a shared sense of community and respect, as has happened with Turkey.Improve this
Even if there is such a thing as a 'clash of civilizations', a Union for the Mediterranean does nothing to dispel it. The mutual fear and distrust between peoples stems from cultural and ideological differences, and those can't be changed by having the elite policy makers sit together regularly in a talking shop. Moreover, it is unclear why cultural differences should be changed: the Mediterranean Arab/Islamic culture and the European Judeo-Christian are perfectly capable of co-existing peacefully. Lastly: the Union for the Mediterranean does nothing for the hardest problem in the Mediterranean: the Israel-Palestine conflict.Improve this
A Changing Mediterranean Brings New Opportunities.
It is a great opportunity for the EU to create partners in the Mediterranean right now. The EU should offset the dilatoriness of its response to the pro-democratic demands with a decided and generous involvement (in terms of funds, but principally of political will) in favour of democratic transitions. To do so, it should abandon an approach that is focused, on the one hand, on the 'securitisation' of Euro-Mediterranean relations and, on the other, on the belief that commercial and economic liberalisation will solve all the problems and bring about democracy and good governance. Stability and prosperity in the Mediterranean can be best achieved with the support of 'strong states' instead of 'fierce states', as has been the case until now. Actively fostering good governance in Arab countries will necessarily translate into new opportunities for societies and economies on both shores of the Mediterranean. To do this, it is all the more necessary to resume the objectives and the 'Barcelona spirit' of 19951, since its diagnosis was accurate, although there was a lack of political will, the context was adverse and the means were not tailored to meet the ends.
Europe's credibility as a global player, as well as its own future security and wellbeing will depend, to a large extent, on the EU's capacity to accompany democratic transitions in its southern neighbourhood and to foster progress in these societies.Improve this
There is an opportunity for the EU as a global actor to get involved in the current situation in the Arabic world. However it is not the only global actor. There is also the United States, which also have big interests in these specific areas. Such close partnership to be achieved means negotiating with one more, rather hidden part – the USA. Until now they have had very close relations to the leaders in these regions and it is likely for them to continue maintaining close relationships with these countries due to the economic interest. The EU can find itself in a difficult situation if it gets driven in games of intrigues and political schemes.
It’s important for the EU to stay near the events and be involved in a way, but not to a great extent and certainly not with close partnership.Improve this
It will be dangerous for the EU to offer partnership in this moment.
There are too many problems, which are going to occur due to the recent unstable political situation. It will be dangerous for the EU to get involved and offer closer partnership to these states right now. Instead they should concentrate on stabilizing these countries and helping to create democracy.
The uncertainties and difficulties inherent to the transitions from authoritarian regimes to participative systems will significantly shape the Euro-Mediterranean agenda in the coming years. For example “Amr Moussa, the man most likely to be Egypt’s next president and known for his hatred of Israel and strong dislike of the United States (a radical nationalist who opposes Islamism but might make a deal with the Brotherhood to get into power and to govern thereafter) gives a foretaste of his demagogic tendencies if elected. He tweeted: “Israel has to realize that the days in which our sons are killed without an appropriate and strong reaction are forever gone.””  It is better for the EU to simply help with stabilization for now rather than offering a close economic partnership.
 Rubin, Barry. 'Uh-Oh, A Foretaste of The New Democratic Egypt: Radical Nationalists and “Liberal Islamists”', 21/08/2011 http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/2011/08/21/uh-oh-a-foretaste-of-the-new-democratic-egypt-radical-nationalists-and-liberal-islamists/Improve this
It would be a major mistake for the EU, indecisive and absorbed by its internal problems as it may be, to be largely guided by these fears.
Over a period that might last for years it will be difficult to apply a common approach in the EU to its southern neighbourhood, since the changes that are currently taking place can lead to highly diverse scenarios. For the time being, three basic scenarios can be envisaged for Arab countries: (1) a majoritarian trend towards democratic transitions; (2) highly diverse situations from one country to another, combining democratisation with repression; and (3) counter-revolutionary processes from ‘old guard’ forces or radical sectors, thus endangering the trend initiated in 2011. How these events will unfold remains to be seen, but the scenario that will prevail will depend, to a large extent, on whether the EU will contribute to the creation of a ‘democratic, stable, prosperous and peaceful Southern Mediterranean’, which is precisely what these populations are calling for and the best way to do this is through an economic partnership.Improve this
Oil is the prime interest in the relations between Mediterranean and other states.
Oil will always dictate the interests among western states and the Mediterranean area. Therefore such close partnership would draw the entire EU into tangled and complicated relationships and it is not certain whether this will be beneficial or the exact opposite. Oil creates interdependence between the producing states in the Middle East and the consumers in Asia and the West. Although rising prices are good for producers they can also threaten the world economy and create inflation that in turn will damage the producers by reducing demand 1. Oil, not democracy, is the main reason for external interest in Arab regimes, some of the strongest alliances in the Middle East are built with oil as their foundations 2. These oil partnerships are not something that can be matched by a Mediterranean Union. That the major powers are more interested in oil and securing its supply routes is shown by how the Obama administration was always unwilling to call for democracy in Egypt and for President Mubarak to go. Instead the administration made statements like - Hilary Clinton: “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people” 3.
) Daniel Yergin, 'The Prize The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power' (New York, N.Y., 1993), p.703.
 Eric Watkins, ‘The Unfolding US Policy in the Middle East’, International Affairs, Vol.73, No.1 (Jan., 1997), pp.1-14, p.1.
 John Barry, 'Inside the White House’s Egypt scramble', Newsweek, 30/1/2011, http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/01/30/inside-the-white-house-s-egypt-scramble.html.Improve this
It is far more beneficial to the western world for the rich in oil countries to have democratic governance. In Libya sanctions were applied against oil exports.  In doing this the west ran the risk of cutting off Libyan oil for years to come. Obviously the above case represents a regime in flux. Once a regime is toppled then anything can happen. There is then no reason why outside actors should want to encourage another dictatorship rather than a democracy. A dictatorship may bring stability faster but a democracy is much more stable in the long run. Therefore it is in the EU’s interests to encourage these countries to move towards democracy.
 'Libya oil stuck in legal limbo as UN panel shunned' 20/04/2011 http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE73J04Q20110420Improve this
There can never be full cooperation between the EU and the Mediterranean states.
The Mediterranean states will never be democratic and free enough in order to become trustworthy partners to the EU. There can never be full cooperation between the two sides. Before the rebels negotiations and relations were not going smoothly enough and no real progress was made even after the Barcelona contract. Now some see a light in the tunnel when the oppressive leaders are gone, but it will be a long time before these countries can fully reintegrate. – “'The president [of Egypt] remains extraordinarily powerful. The amendments do nothing about due process and neglect other authoritarian aspects of the state”  So even after reforms Egypt may not end out a democratic partner for the EU.
 ) Gwertzman, Bernard 'Egypt's Referendum: Nervous Steps Forward', 21/03/2011 http://www.cfr.org/egypt/egypts-referendum-nervous-steps-forward/p24452Improve this
States that have been affected by the ‘Arab Spring’ do show progress and the process may not be very fast and easy, which is quite normal actually, but change is underway. The referendum in Egypt in March on amending the constitution passed with a yes vote of 77.2%. That there was a referendum at all surely counts as progress. It limits the number of presidential terms to two, promises to strengthen the judiciary and abolish some of the emergency laws.Improve this
True economic union will be rather disadvantageous for both sides.
It is highly doubtful if the participating countries would want a true economic union for the Mediterranean, which will be the direct result from a closer partnership. For example, the people of the European Union wouldn’t want more labour migration from Mediterranean countries coming their way if the popularity of right-wing parties in all EU-countries is any indication – “The rise of far-right parties — not just in France and Finland but in numerous other countries across Europe — has the potential to call into question … immigration politic[ies].”  The Mediterranean countries are already happily exporting to the EU, but wouldn’t like the EU single market rules meddling in local customs and practices.
 Greenblatt, Alen. 'Far-Right Parties Gain Ground In European Politics', 27/04/2011 http://www.npr.org/2011/04/27/135745530/far-right-parties-gain-ground-in-european-politicsImprove this
While Right wing parties have been increasing their share of the vote they are still not in the majority. In France the Front National made big gains in the 2011 local elections, but still only gained 15% of the vote compared the ruling UMP’s 19% and Socialist party’s 26%.(23) This is not enough to act as anything more than a spoiler in elections and not enough to prevent closer economic cooperation if it was considered to be in France’s economic interests. The situation is similar in other European states.Improve this
The EU offers partnership only in certain cases.
The EU offers assistance and partnership only when this is very convenient and advantageous to it.
While support from outside is not absolutely vital to a stable democracy, it could be a great asset. However the west’s record in support for democracy in the Middle East is not as great as it might be. The victory of Hamas in 2006, winning 76 of 132 seats resulted in the fact that aid from Europe and the US was reduced to humanitarian aid only, rather than as before being a major element of Palestinian government income and expenditure.  The result being that in 2007 the ‘country’ was rent in two as Hamas seized control of Gaza. Of course another middle eastern state that holds democratic elections, Iran, is the very model of a pariah state from the western point of view.
Palestinian Parliamentary Elections 2006, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/palestine/pa-elections2006.htmImprove this
When partnership is created it is based upon mutual interests and benefits. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a partnership. Both sides gain advantage from this partnership and it doesn’t matter for what interests the EU is seeking it. It is important to be noted that the EU helps bringing democracy to these countries while in the meantime assuring stability of the world. Furthermore creating close relationships, which will facilitate the dialogue between these sides in the future.Improve this
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliament_of_Egypt Egypt holds parliamentary poll 28/11/2010Morrow, Adam and Moussa al-Omrani, Khaled. Opposition Squeezed in Local Elections 17/03/2008Gwertzman, Bernard Egypt's Referendum: Nervous Steps Forward 21/03/2011Daniel Yergin, The Prize The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power (New York, N.Y., 1993), p.703.Eric Watkins, 'The Unfolding US Policy in the Middle East', International Affairs, Vol.73, No.1 (Jan., 1997), pp.1-14, p.1John Barry, Inside the White House's Egypt scramble, Newsweek, 30/1/2011, Libya oil stuck in legal limbo as UN panel shunned 20/04/2011 Michel Chatelus and Yves Scehmeil, 'Towards a New Political Economy of State Industrialisation in the Arab Middle East', International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 16, No. 2 (May, 1984), pp.251-265, pp.261-262Timur Kuran, 'Why the Middle East is Economically Underdeveloped: Historical Mechanisms of Institutional Stagnation', The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol.18, No.3 (Summer, 2004), pp.71-90, p.87.Gerd Nonneman, 'Rentiers and Autocrats, Monarchs and Democrats, State and Society: The Middle East between Globalisation, Human "Agency", and Europe', International Affairs, Vol.77, No.1 (Jan., 2001), pp.141-162, pp.146-147.Alaaldin, Ranj The Iraqi government's patchwork alliance may struggle to survive 24/12/2010Hezbollah and allies topple Lebanese unity government 12/01/2011 Lebanon is the most democratic Arab country, ranks 86th Globally 25/12/2010The Democracy Index 2010: Democracy in retreatPalestinian Parliamentary Elections 2006U.S.-Latin America Trade: Recent Trends and Policy Issues 8/02/2011LaGro, Esra A Note on the Euro-mediterranean Partnership and the Role of Turkey EU ready to help Egypt build a deep rooted democracy 10/08/2011http://www.eeas.europa.eu/euromed/barcelona_en.htm Greenblatt, Alen. Far-Right Parties Gain Ground In European Politics 27/04/2011Rubin, Barry. Uh-Oh, A Foretaste of The New Democratic Egypt: Radical Nationalists and "Liberal Islamists" 21/08/2011Chrisafis, Angelique, French local elections leave Sarkozy party in disarray, guardian.co.uk, 21 March 2011,
The Barcelona Process Website of the Euro-Mediterranean PartnershipThe 2008 Paris Summit Joint Declaration that reconstituted the Barcelona Process as the Union for the MediterraneanThe 2008 Marseille Statement that established more details on Union for the MediterraneanThis presentation by an EU-civil servant explains what has been done so far under the Union for the MediterraneanThis online paper by the United Nations Public Administration Network examines the case for a Euro-Mediterranean free trade areaThe Center for European Policy Studies CEPS has a policy brief analysing the security dimensions of a Union for the MediterraneanSceptical comment from the Centre for European ReformEuropean Voice search page for topical storiesGlobalresearch.ca article
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