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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

another EC rethink


The criticism I have been making foe some years of EC Technical Assistance has related to hhe relevance of project management philosophy in the context of what I have called "non-accession" countries eg those who have been the focus of its Neighbourhood Policy. This was launched in 2003 and aimed to create a “ring of friends” by extending aid and benefits, such as access to the single market, in return for economic and political reforms. Yet the EU has little to show for the billions of euros it has spent. Belarus remains Europe’s last dictatorship, Ukraine is moving backwards, the Arab-Israeli conflict is unresolved and punctuated by violence, and north Africa has languished, until this year, under the rule of autocrats. In the south the EU has focused mainly on economic development; this area gets the lion’s share of neighbourhood-policy funds.
A report this week tells us that The Economist tells us that
Europe has a wealth of experience in helping to reform former totalitarian states. The democratisation of eastern Europe, though incomplete, is a striking success for the “soft power” of the EU, a body without much of the hard sort. But if enlargement has been the EU’s most successful foreign-policy tool, the attempt to promote reform in borderland countries with little hope of joining has largely been a failure. Nicolas Sarkozy’s vanity project, the “Union for the Mediterranean”, a political club that has been paralysed since its inception in 2008, has if anything boosted Arab monarchs and presidents-for-life.
Stability has been paramount for many reasons: preserving Arab-Israeli peace treaties; fighting jihadist terrorism; curbing weapons of mass destruction; protecting oil and gas supplies; and preventing mass migration to Europe. These are not trivial concerns. Europe must deal with the neighbours it has, not the ones it would like. Its mistake was to lose belief in their ability to change for the better. But now that the Arab world is being remade from within, European policy must change too.
The EU’s foreign-policy chief, Cathy Ashton, is being showered with ideas: Germany says EU support (including lifting barriers to agricultural trade) should be linked to democratic reforms. Italy wants more “carrots” to encourage orderly but rapid change, including an upgrade of relations with Egypt and Tunisia and a new system to manage migration. France, Spain and four others plead for more spending in the south and boosting the Union for the Mediterranean, with few or no conditions.
Remember 1989
The end of communism in the east was a great blessing for Europe. The fall of dictators in the south could be too, though the transition is bound to be more uncertain. In 1989 western Europe’s communist foes collapsed; the people rose up against the resented Soviet occupier and were attracted by the West. In the Arab world it is the West’s awkward allies that are falling, and the people there have long resented Western overlordship.
So far the revolts of 2011 have been strikingly free of Islamist, anti-imperial and even anti-Israeli ideology. Such sentiments could yet be stirred if Europe appears to be colluding with hated rulers. The uprisings have removed Europe’s dilemma over pursing stability or democracy—its interests against its values. Stability is gone; interests and values are the same. The only answer is to embrace, help and protect those who want democracy.
I have a feeling that this word "democracy"is misleading us again. Another blog puts
a more realistic gloss on things.
We really do need to unpick this term "democracy"! One of the thoughts I am trying to develop at the moment is the artificiality of the distinction the EC has bmade in its TA work between democracy assistance and administrative reform. I don't think you can't separate the two.
graphic is Tudor Banus againwith critics saying that recent events in north Africa have highlighted its ineffectual nature. Stricter "conditionality" attached to EU funds and greater "differentiation" between how much target states receive are two ideas due to come up in a forthcoming review of the policy, a commission spokeswoman said on Thursday (24 February). In a letter to EU high representative Catherine Ashton this month, France, Spain and four smaller EU members said the Union should give less money to its post-Soviet neighbours in the east and more to southern neighbours on the Mediterranean rim. An analysis paper attached to the letter noted that out of the €12 billion set aside for the European Neighbourhood Policy from 2007 to 2013, just €1.80 is being spent per capita in Egypt and €7 in Tunisia compared to €25 in Moldova. But two-thirds of overall ENP money already goes to the south - since the countries in question are more populous.
„We do recognise that lessons need to be learnt," Natasha Butler said of the recent turmoil in north Africa. "There has been a sea change in the region and we are ready for a sea change in terms of our approach," she added. "That means we are ready to strengthen differentiation, we are ready to move more on conditionalities."
Devised in 2004 as a means of building better relations with the Union's closest neighbours, the ENP has recently taken flak from a wide range of people. British Prime Minister David Cameron this week said it needed "radical reform" after EU financial assistance worth around €1.7 billion for countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya in recent years failed to bring about the political and market reforms they were supposed to.
The European Commission has promised a "sea change" to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP),

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