World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


TRADITION, EXTERNAL FACTORS AND POLITICAL CHANGE IN THE ARAB MEDITERRANEAN COUNTRIES - 3/3: The EU and Democracy Assistance to Mediterranean Countries (259) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: WED 21, 5.00-7.00 pm

· NOT_DEFINED institution: EuroMed Center and University of Catania

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Fulvio Attinà and Stefania Panebianco

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:
The third wave of democratization which started in 1974 seems to have left the Arab Mediterranean countries untouched. What is missing in this regional area is a widespread democratic contagion leading to the replacement of the old authoritarian regimes existing in the area. On the one hand, countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco are going through some political changes which very recently have allowed them to be regarded as ‘partially free’ countries. While other countries such as Egypt or Tunisia have not experienced any political reforms. In the best case scenario, transition to democracy is blocked and hybrid regimes have replaced authoritarian ones.

Which are the reasons of these blocked transitions? This symposium seeks to explore the reasons why the Arab Mediterranean countries are experiencing difficult transitions to democracy (if any at all). It seeks to shed light upon the key issue, i.e. whether the specificity of this regional area requires the elaboration of new concepts. Or, conversely, whether the concepts and analytical categories elaborated by the literature on democratic transition can be applied to the Arab Mediterranean countries, although they are drawn from the democratization processes which took place in other regional areas.

The papers presented in this symposium will be theoretically oriented researches and/or country-based analyses. By adopting preferably a comparative approach, the papers will investigate the key factors leading to political reform and eventually democratic change: domestic political actors; socio-economic development; the respect of the rule of law; the role of civil society; the EU assistance to democracy and human rights, and the role of other relevant international actors; also the influence of religion upon democracy will be investigated.

PANEL III explores EU action to provide democracy assistance to Mediterranean countries. The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty (esp. Art. 10 A on the EU External Action) and the adoption of the Council Conclusions on Democracy Support in the EU’s External Relations (November 2009) have relaunched the issue of the EU as external actor of democratization. This panel aims at critically evaluating, also by means of specific case-studies, the effectiveness of EU’s action, the suitability of policy frameworks such as the ENP to promote democracy, the functioning of the EIDHR, the issue of credible incentives and the instrument of positive and negative conditionality. Critical views and proposals towards a more pragmatic strategy will be taken into account, bearing in mind that the involvement and responsibility of the recipient countries remains essential.

Chair: Stefania Panebianco, University of Catania (Italy)

Discussant: Stelios Stavridis, University of Saragoza (Spain)

Paper presenter: Andreas Marchetti, ZEI, “The EU and Democracy Promotion: Towards a less ambitious but more effective approach?”
Within its policies towards the Mediterranean the European Union has been constantly underlining its ambition to assist transformation towards the general aim of establishing “well-governed countries”. While democracy promotion plays a major role in the Union’s rhetoric, such a policy faces two fundamental dilemmas in practice.
1) The EU has established close contractual ties to most governments in the region, although a considerable number of the regimes in question do not conform to the Union’s ideas of democratic governance; an offensive democratization agenda therefore puts into question the Union’s credibility as reliable international partner in the eyes of Mediterranean countries.
2) Another top item on the Union’s agenda, namely the quest for security and stability – i.e. a preference for the status quo – considerably hampers the Union’s own ambition to really pursue a transformative agenda.
Because of these dilemmas, an offensive and explicit democratization policy might not be very effective, let alone efficient. A more coherent and realistic policy (in the original sense of the word) needs to deconstruct some of the Union’s rhetoric, focus on – generally agreeable – aspects that are necessary prerequisites for any democratic development, and take into consideration a larger array of policies at the Union’s disposal in order to positively influence the lives of people and therefore also contribute to the democratization/good governance agenda in the end.

Paper presenter: Charalambos Tsardanidis, Institute of International Economic Relations, “The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) as an external factor of Europeanization and democratisation: The case of Morocco”
The paper will attempt to analyse to what extent Morocco has been Europeanised and democratised by its bilateral relationship with the EU under the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy. ENP as an external governance is based on a new form of near abroad management, where internal and foreign policy goals come together since EU’s internal policies are used to reshape its neighbourhood. From this standpoint, Morocco must adapt its economic institutions and policies to the EU acquis, a process which in literature is known as ‘Europeanisation’. Although there is no membership perspective, Morocco as other Mediterranean Partnership Country (MPC) has the chance of close economic, political and social relations with EU and democratise its institutions. If the EU is not the only promoter of democratic procedures, it nevertheless tries to encourage the democratisation of Morocco through the Action plans. Have however EU procedures, requirements and conditionality (positive and negative) become internalised and have they exerted influence on the democratisation process in Morocco?
The paper argues that ENP’s ambitions of promoting democracy in Morocco are not fully met. The ENP remains limited in its influence to shape the democratisation and Europeanization process in the South Mediterranean states as long as the EU is not able to formulate a new and more coherent strategy for the whole area of the Middle East.

Paper presenter: Kristina Kausch, FRIDE, “European interests and political reform in North Africa and the Middle east”
A European pull-back from democracy support is widely observed. Disappointment accumulates amongst pro-reform local stakeholders in North Africa and the Middle East. Is this a fair indictment of current trends on European policy? And if so, what does it tell us about the dynamics that condition European foreign policy? Does it reveal normative power to be a chimera? Does it really suggest a fundamental rethink of the relationship between strategic self-interest and domestic political change?

Paper presenter: Kalliope Agapiou- Josephides, University of Cyprus, “Democratisation and Human Rights Protection in the European Union’s External Relations: The Role of the European Parliament”
The challenges to democratisation are global, despite their different evolution and contexts. Mediterranean countries, and Arab-Mediterranean countries in particular, are not an exception. Democratisation and human rights have gained increased importance in the external policies of the European Union (EU), and have a significant impact on democracy-building in many countries of the world. The EU, one of the most influential global economic and political actors worldwide, has developed a rich practice in including human rights aspects in its international agreements. This is achieved through several instruments of a diplomatic and commercial nature, through development aid and financial cooperation. The European Parliament (EP) has played a key role, by initiating the debate on the necessity of including ‘human rights clauses’ in these agreements since the 1970s, and has been, ever since, one of the strongest advocates of democratisation and human rights promotion world-wide. There are constant and vivid discussions within the EU on democracy and human-rights issues in a range of policy areas such as Foreign and Security Policy, Neighbourhood Policy and Development Cooperation. Furhermore, EU policy and actions in fields such as migration, trade and agriculture can also affect democracy-building. Have the results risen to expectations, both of the EU and of its partners? Has any actual difference been made? Is this a coherent or double-standards policy? How have global changes affected this policy? Empirical findings suggest that rarely do ‘human rights clauses’ or treaties have unconditional positive effects on human rights. Democratisation and human rights improvement are more likely to happen in a country which is more or less on a democratization track and the majority of its citizens are eager and do participate in international nongovernmental organizations work. Conversely, in a country with no political will to go beyond rhetoric by seriously engaging in such a process and with a weak civil society, such aid can be expected to have a rather poor effect. Therefore, any efficient and comprehensive effort to assess the role of the EP in this field, can only be achieved if it builds on real partnerships, where there is a joint effort to improve democratic structures, culture and norms. This paper analyses the role of the European Parliament in the field of democratisation and human rights promotion, the various instruments at its disposal and old and new challenges. Local ownership and empowerment is of paramount importance and is necessary to pave the way forward.