The ongoing uprisings in the Arab world have surprised and unnerved the EU’s Leaders, and it is not clear that they have managed to be equal to the events in progress. Hence this statement by Jacques Delors, Antonio Vitorino and Notre Europe’s board of directors, focusing on a triple message:
The events in the Arab world must firstly be perceived as a historic opportunity, and not as a threat: the EU must leave behind the sterile trade-off between dictatorship and Islamism, and thus its “security preference”, so as to build new relations with peoples who demonstrated their attachment to European values such as democracy, openness and freedom
Europeans must provide without delays moral and material support to people and countries undergoing change, to consolidate and extend their political progress: priority must be given to the economies, with a massive European aid programme, but also to civil societies, by sending them signals of openness, especially on the delivery of visas
Events in the South, but also in the East, must lead to promote the “neighbourhood policy”, under revision, as a core pillar of the nebulous “EU external policy”. No South/East opposition then, but a reinforced and differentiated support, adapted to the degree of modernization of the beneficiaries.
Countries such as Tunisia and Egypt can spearhead the rapprochement between the EU and its neighbourhood: their success is essential and will be seen as a test for other countries, but also for the EU and its leaders.
This statement has been cited in the French and European press:
Le Temps, 8 June
European Voice internet version, 9 June
Le Figaro, 14 June