Caitlin Gheller The EU and the Arab Spring PPT

Conflict in the Middle East:
The European Union and the
Arab Spring
Caitlin Gheller
Lecture Outline
Brief timeline of the Arab Spring
The EU’s relationship with the Middle East
The European Neighbourhood Policy
The EU’s response to the Arab Spring
A critical and divided initial response
Development projects
What is the role of the EU in the Arab Spring?
Self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi on December 17th 2010 –
ended with the exile of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on
January 14th 2011
Non-violent protests began on January 25th 2011 – ended with
the resignation of Hosni Mubarak/military coup on February 11th
Clashes with Security Forces February 15th 2011 – NTC Captures Major
Libyan Cities 23rd October 2011 – Death of Muammar Gaddafi 20th
October 2011
Protests for Government Reforms January 27th 2011 – Swearing
in of Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi February 25th 2012
Protests demanding the resignation of Bashar Al Assad March 15th
2011 – Present Day
UN Figures 3rd January 2013 – Death Toll at 60,000
Unrest Across the Middle East
• Algeria - 19 year state of emergency lifted
• Bahrain – Release of prisoners, economic reforms
• Jordan – Kind Abdullah II dissolves Parliament, calls for early
• Oman – Economic concessions, powers granted to elected
• Iraq – Prime Minister Maliki rules out running for a 3rd term
• Kuwait – Resignation of Prime Minister, dissolving of
• Morocco – Political concessions by King Mohamed VI,
referendum on constitutional reforms
• Saudi Arabia – Municipal elections held, women promised right
to vote and run in 2015 elections (still not allowed to drive, mix
with non-familiar men!)
The EU’s Relationship with
the Middle East and North
• The EU’s relationship with the Middle East/North Africa
is facilitated by the European External Action Service –
foreign ministry and diplomatic core of the EU
• EU’s relations with the area are grouped into the
‘Euromed’ region as a part of its European
Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).
• ENP adopted in 2004, a solution to the hard line
approach taken by the US towards the Middle East,
‘avoid the emergence of new dividing lines’ and
promote economic prosperity, security and stability.
• The ENP drew up individual action plans (and Free trade
agreements) for each member state, no ‘one size fits all
King Abdullah II meeting with High Representative for Foreign Affairs and
Security Policy Catherine Ashton
The EU’s Response to the
Arab Spring
A Critical Response
• The response of the EU was weak and indecisive,
acted as a bystander.
• ‘Hesitation before it resorted to a rather incoherent
mix of activism and pacifism.’
• Tunisia reaction, ‘Dialogue is key...willingness to find
lasting democratic solutions’ – falls short of
supporting change of government
• Egypt: Stronger reaction, ‘called on Egyptian
authorities to ‘meet the aspirations of the Egyptian
people with political reform, not repression’, fell
short of calling for Mubarak’s resignation
A Divided Response
• The response of the Member States was divided
• Instead of acting as a unified body, individual member states
pursued their own agendas
• France: Offered security support for the Ben Ali regime in
Tunisia, occasionally called for change of power in Egypt,
supported No-Fly Zone in Libya
• Germany: Hesitant to involve itself in Libya, didn’t want to be
stuck in a North African Conflict. Lack of involvement a
‘scandalous mistake’ that damaged its ‘credibility in the UN and
the Middle East’
• Britain allied with France and supported action in Libya, Italy
• Even with a Common Defence and Security Policy, member states
fail to take the necessary steps to intervene in conflict via the EU
‘The European Union
isn't the problem. The
member states are the
problem. They are
pursuing interests that
are sometimes widely
divergent. The EU does
what it can. But why
exactly, are all the EU
foreign Ministers
travelling to the region,
and, on top of that,
saying different things?’
Martin Schulz, Socialist Group
European Parliament
What sort of Actor is the EU?
• In the case of the Arab Spring, rather than a defence actor, the EU
plays a development role
• Revising of the NEP – now a ‘more for more’ approach, the more a
state implements reforms, the more funding/EU support the
• ‘Less for less approach’ – states who fail to engage in reforms, the
EU will enforce sanctions
• Three Ms (money, mobility, markets)
• €1.2 billion added to the €5.7 billion 2011-2013 budget for the
Euromed region
• European Investment Bank lending to increase development loans
• Proceed with FTAs for Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan, €20
million investment scheme to invest in Mediterranean small
• Individual agreements through finance and
dialogue proposals
• Tunisia: Facilitated the first Tunisian elections
in October 2011, EU-Tunisian Task Force,
increased its aid budget to €400 million from
€240 million,
• Egypt: €20 million Civil Society Package to
‘assist the democratic process’, funding for the
2012 Presidential elections
• Morocco: ‘more for more’ after the 2011
creation of a parliament, increased it aid
budget by 20%
Support to Partnership, Reform and Inclusive Growth (SPRING) programme in
Conclusion: What is the Role of the EU
in the Arab Spring?
• The Arab Spring has shown that the EU is not
a defence actor
• Initial responses to the Arab Spring were
reserved, and calling for dialogue, no concrete
democratic reforms
• EU member states act in a divided manner,
not unified and assertive action, EU unable to
• The EU is an actor poised to remain in the long
term, development work
• Adapted partnerships with Euromed states – a
‘more for more approach’
• Support for development projects to states once
reliant upon autocratic regimes
• Financial funding – budgets boosted, financial
support for businesses, economic development
• ‘There are many who stand ready to construct a
new agenda for Europe. An agenda built on
human values, on a constructive and open
partnership with our neighbours’ – Cecilia
Malmstrom, Commissioner for Home Affairs

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