Foreign Policy Program
change in unisia and then in Egypt. Te press, however,was impatient or action and criticized the “deaeningsilence” rom Europe in the rst months o the revolt.Tere were harsh exchanges in the European Parliamentabout this. In reality, the European Commission and theHigh Representative acted swifly, given the wide-rangingconsultations required, and in March put orward aproposed new EU strategy towards the region.
Tis placed democracy promotion at the heart o the EU’sMediterranean policy through a proposed new “Partner-ship or Democracy and Shared Prosperity.” Under thisscheme, the EU would oer incentives, including increasedgrants and loans, better access to the EU market, “mobility partnerships” and visa acilitation, as well as a new civilsociety acility, in exchange or commitments to democ-racy, human rights, social justice, good governance, andthe rule o law. Benets would be calibrated to reorms, onthe principle “more or more,” i.e., those who go urtherin implementing pro-democracy reormers would receivemore assistance. o determine eligibility, the EU wouldmonitor the adoption and implementation o reorms care-ully. Tis approach was swifly endorsed by the EuropeanCouncil and incorporated in the revised ENP in May.Tis initiative put more money on the table and, above all,conveyed the message that the EU was ready to respondto new aspirations in the Arab countries. High level visitsin the spring and summer o 2011 to unisia, Libya, andEgypt reiterated the EU’s support or transition to systemsbased on democracy and the respect or human rights.In June, the high representative set up a ask Force or theSouthern Mediterranean, comprised o EU bodies andinternational nancial institutions, and the next monthappointed a Spanish diplomat, Bernardino León, to work with this task orce to promote democratic transition. Asevents evolved, the EU supported the unreezing o Libyanassets and the imposition o tougher sanctions on Syriaollowing the regime’s brutal repression o the popularuprising.Support or the EU’s new initiative in the Arab countrieswas rather muted. Observers in Europe raised questionsabout the wisdom o placing democratization at the hearto EU policy, in light o the recalcitrance o some o the
Communication on a Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with theSouthern Mediterranean, from the High Representative and the European Commission,
8 March 2011, COM(2011) 200 nal
actors there (e.g. Algeria, Gaza, Syria) and uncertainty asto the outcome o popular uprisings. Delivery o expectedbenets could become a problem, especially i tightly linked to reorm achievements. In the conused conditionso unisia, Egypt, and, increasingly, Libya, it was uncer-tain whether emerging political orces would be ready totake the EU as a model or political, economic, and legalreorms. In unisia, there was much emphasis on localownership and sel-help. How did this square with the EU’sinsistence on strict conditionality? Te balance betweendierent political orces in Egypt was constantly shifing,with the army expected to play a signicant role at leastor a couple o years. I Egypt missed some reorm bench-marks, could the EU nonetheless engage actively under thenew approach?In strategic terms, the proposed partnerships, and subse-quent ENP review,
seem a sensible response to events.In practice, though, reormers will only embrace the EUinitiative i it is implemented with sensitivity, taking intoaccount the undamentally dierent situation in eachcountry, and provided delivery mechanisms are swif andeective.In particular, partners will be looking or early steps toliberalize agricultural trade and to ease conditions ormobility. Visa acilitation is crucial or people-to-peoplecontacts and as a gauge o the practical value o the EU’ssupport. Concrete and eective assistance rom the EU to
Communication on a Changing Neighborhood, from the High representative and the
European Commission, 25 May, 2011, COM (2011) 303 nal
In the confused conditions of Tunisia, Egypt, and, increasingly,Libya, it was uncertain whetheremerging political forces would beready to take the EU as a modelfor political, economic, and legalreforms.