Policy Paper 54

After the Revolution: The EU and the Arab Transition

One year after the Arab revolutions, this Policy Paper by Timo Behr analyses the review of the EU’s neighbourhood policies and calls for a move beyond the “enlargement-light” logic.

One year after the Arab revolutions, this Policy Paper seeks to assess in how far EU policies have changed and whether the ENP review still provides an appropriate framework for EU action in a quickly evolving region.

Timo Behr argues that although the EU introduced some positive changes, the review failed to alter the underlying format and direction of Euro-Mediterranean relations. The EU continues to pursue a Eurocentric vision of integration that builds on an “enlargement-light” approach. However, this approach does not provide a realistic vision for the future of EU engagement. Instead, the EU will need to find a way to reconcile its own Eurocentric vision with the revival of Pan-Arab and Pan-Islamic trends and the emancipatory outlook of post-revolutionary states.

To meet this challenge, the author calls for another review of the EU’s Euro-Mediterranean policies, focusing on the fundamentals of that relationship. The starting point ought to be an acknowledgment of the EU’s diminishing power and ability to dictate the direction of political and economic change in the region. He concludes by outlining a number of basic principles and elements that could be streamlined into EU policies that seek to move beyond the “enlargement-light” logic.