Europe as a Stability Anchor for the Middle-East and North Africa: Looking at Security, Development, and Migration from an EU Perspective (Academic Panel)

A number of Middle East and North African (MENA) countries have been undergoing rapid transformation, with destabilizing effects for the region. The Syrian war has grown into an epic humanitarian catastrophe, with several unknowns as to the intentions behind the Involvement of different regional and external actors, such as Iran, Russia or Saudi Arabia. Also, the volatile situation in countries like Iraq, Libya, or Yemen increases the risk and instability in the MENA, representing a series of challenges for the European Union. Simultaneously, the MENA region represents like few others the problems of inequality and exclusion.

A key change in the global order over the last 50 years has been the Gulf Arab countries’ growing prominence in international and regional affairs. Among other things, this is expressed in their increasingly significant role as development and security actors, especially in the MENA. Against a background of continuous turbulence, social inequality and collapsing political order in this region, at the EU’s doorstep, this raises questions about the particular intentions, goals, means, and outcomes of aid to the MENA countries, and how these affect European interests.

This panel aims to engage with these issues and to analyse how various international efforts, and in particular activities with regard to fighting inequality and the roots of displacement, elaborating answers to the towards most pressing issues in the MENA Region relate to EU foreign policies and European development and humanitarian aid undertakings there. On the one hand, these issues are of grave concern for the EU, as in the areas of security and migration. On the other hand, the multiple crises that the EU currently faces (the Eurozone crisis, the migration challenge and the call for guarding Europe’s borders, the Brexit vote and the uncertainty over the UK’s future relationship with the EU) inevitably restrict the impact and effectiveness of the Union’s foreign and development policies in the MENA and pose the question of the limits to Europe’s capacities.
In dissecting these matters, the panel features original, critical and methodologically diverse papers that will shed light onto multiple aspects of the relevant questions from a variety of vantage points.

Chair and discussant: Dr.Thomas Henökl / Dr. Markus Loewe (DIE/GDI)


Ms. Sara Hamouda, College of Europe in Natolin

The EU’s constructive engagement in Egypt after the Arab uprisings in 2011: rationale and Impact

The trajectory of EU-Egypt relations has been trembling since the 25 January Revolution took place. Although Egypt has been a major supporter of the EU’s regional initiatives in the MENA over the last two decades while the EU has become the country’s primary trade partner, the EU has been heavily criticized due to its lack of assertiveness towards the regime change in Egypt, which affected its external influence in the Egyptian street afterwards. Moreover, criticism about the EU’s aid to southern neighbours in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy wasexpressed by some scholars as it was negligible in some partners like Egypt while its aim of achieving ‘far reaching structural changes’ instead of supporting prerequisite internal adjustments was over-optimistic.
This paper documents the EU’s initiatives towards the Arab uprisings with a special focus on Egypt as the study’s main concern and a corner stone of stability in the region. It demonstrates the internal political and economic shifts in Egypt post 2011 and to what extent the EU initiatives aligned with Egypt’s socio-economic needs. Accordingly, the study displays the EU intervention within three periods: SCAF rule (Feb 2011-July 2012), the Morsi government (July 2012-June 2013), and the al-Sisi government (July 2013 till present). It also includes interviews’ findings with Egyptian and European expertise highlighting the lessons learnt from EU-Egyptian cooperation after six years of the EU Action Plan 2007-2013.

Dr. Mark Furness, German Development Institute (GDI)
Explaining Continuity and Change in German aid policy and practice in the MENA region since 2011

The Middle East and North Africa’s problems – especially violent conflict, authoritarian rule, economic stagnation and Islamist radicalism, clearly matter to the German government and public. Since the 2011 Arab uprisings brought all of these problems to a head, German aid to the MENA region has more than doubled in volume. From an aid and development effectiveness perspective, this raises the fundamental question of the extent to which German aid has been used consistently and coherently to support countries in the MENA region to resolve their problems. In addressing this question, this paper develops some key insights from the historical institutionalist literature to explain change and continuity in the German aid system. The paper then discusses Germany’s MENA aid policy and practice since 2011 with reference to two analytical narratives that are common in the aid effectiveness literature on policy coherence: strategy and securitization.

Dr. Valentina Kostadinova, University of Buckingham
Saudi Arabian Aid and Development Policy towards the MENA Region – Overlaps and Potential Areas of Tension with EU’s Aid and Development undertakings

The aim of this paper is to present the key features of Saudi Arabia’s aid and development practice in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and to analyse the overlaps and the potential areas of tension with the EU’s aid and development undertakings there.
To that end, the paper firstly presents the major elements of Saudi Arabia’s aid and development policies towards the MENA region. Drawing of the available literature and the findings of a field work in the country, the paper outlines the key Saudi undertakings in the aid and development field, teasing out their goals, means and tools of policy implementation, and analysing their outcomes. This allows teasing out the key features of Saudi Arabia’s aid and development policy practice.
Building on this and on a summary of the EU’s aid and development practice, secondly, the paper analyses the overlaps and the potential areas of tension of the Saudi and EU’s aid and development policies. This analysis contributes to the existing literature on the EU in contemporary international affairs by highlighting the Union’s specific strengths and weaknesses in the field of aid and development in the MENA region against the undertakings of an increasingly important but very different international actor. The consideration of the likely areas of tension in the Saudi and EU aid and development policies also sheds light on matters related to issues of grave concern for the EU, like security or migration. This will enable policy-makers to take these into account as part of their planning and forecasting.

Dr. Thomas Henökl, University of Agder, Kristiansand and Deutsches Institut f. Entwicklungspolitik (GDI/DIE)
The EU Global Strategy and the Southern neighbourhood– Europe as a security provider and stability anchor for the MENA?

This contribution provides an update and critical assessment of EU action in the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA), a region frequently referred as to the European Southern Neighborhood. It examines the different instruments and approaches, which are put at work by a variety of institutional actors, notably the EU Commission, Directorate-Generals (DG) International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), Neighbourhood and Enlargement (NEAR), and the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO); as well as the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the member states, which in their combination are shaping the EU’s MENA policy.
The analytical questions are: What can we reasonably expect from EU external action in Middle-East and North Africa? Does EU foreign policy-making at all affect power and governance structures in the MENA region? To what extent, and under what conditions is the EU likely to contribute to promoting democracy and stability? The particular focus hereby is put on the politico-organizational interplay between the EU’s institutional architecture, and the effects of EU policies on the political order in Middle-East and Arab world. Zooming in on the cases of Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Syria, this paper analyses the design and implementation of EU policies in the areas of security, crisis management, international cooperation and development, and studies the effects thereof in these four key-countries within the region. Based on document review, interviews with policy makers and direct observation, taking into account the local context, as well as the regional and geopolitical dimension, the paper contributes empirical research on EU action in a global hotspot area, undergoing turbulence and violent transformation. Results point to an overstrained Europe, remaining paralyzed in shock and awe, faced with a radically transformed socio-political and security context.