European foreign policy in the Muslim and Arab countries is highly fragmented. While a wide spectrum of initiatives towards the Middle East and North Africa has been developed, these are not contained within an overarching EU strategy for the region. The EU needs to re-assess its whole strategy towards the Muslim and the Arab world and play a much more constructive role to promote the integration of the region.
The demographic explosion and conflicts over resources will influence decisively the history of the Arab-Muslim world during the first half of this century. The ongoing Arab Spring has surprised EU’s leadership. The long duration of the Arab Spring puts a burden on European Union’s shoulders to examine possible strategies to adopt vis-à-vis its neighbours. The possible negative consequences of the revolutions, in terms of migration or terrorism cannot obscure the attachment to democracy, openness and freedom shown by Tunisians, Egyptians, Syrians and others in the Arab World, and this should be enthusiastically encouraged.
It is increasingly obvious that the EU now needs to rethink its strategies with regard to both the Mediterranean and the Gulf regions if it is to ensure that the Mediterranean Union is not just a continuation of old policies under a new name.
- The EU needs to re-think its whole strategy towards the Arab world and play a much more constructive role to promote the integration of the region.
- The EU interventions must be fully co-ordinated with these of international institutions, the US and the United Nations, which are also very active in the region.
- The Arab Spring must lead to the strengthening of another ‘pillar' of external action – the neighbourhood policy. This strategy also means a determined effort to resolve conflicts that threaten the security and stability of whole regions.
- Support for economies and civil societies.
- The European Union and the Muslim and Arab Countries, Nicosia, 22 October 2011