For a differentiated neighbourhood policy

Senén Florensa, président exécutif de l’Institut Européen de la Méditerranée (IEMed). (Photo N.B.C)

Senén Florensa, executive chairman of the European Institute for the Mediterranean (IEMed). (Photo N.B.C)

A new European Neighbourhood Policy will be drawn up within the next two years, the latest version taking into account the new geopolitical mix in the South. The European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), member of the FEMISE network and an active participant in its thorough revision, gives us a preview of the directions it may take.


In 2015, 4000 experts (academics, think tanks…) from 43 Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) countries were surveyed by the European Institute for the Mediterranean to give their opinion on European Neighbourhood Policy reforms. Nine hundred of them responded to the 40-page questionnaire.Their valuable contribution has led to a new direction being put forward for the European Neighbourhood Policy. “We need to have a neighbourhood policy that differentiates between those countries in the East and those in the South. We need to factor into our analysis the weight of the great powers outside the Mediterranean region. With globalization, we must take into account the negative or positive influence of the United States, Russia and China,” underlines Senén Florensa, executive chairman of the European Institute for the Mediterranean (IEMed).

Three categories

Three different status categories could co-exist according to the results of the survey. “First of all, there is the group of countries wishing to move forward on the creation of Euro-Mediterranean common economic area. I’m thinking of Morocco and Tunisia and maybe Jordan and Lebanon. This level of integration implies real commitment on the part of these countries and, in return, greater support from Europe. Other states such as Egypt and Libya would have to decide whether they want to take part in this process of economic integration. If they do not, we would consider them simply as associate countries. The last category would be subject to a separate policy (Sahel, Gulf Nations, sub-Saharan Africa and Iran). In the case of the Sahel, economic stability will depend on the issue of security. Synergies need to be found in projects involving South and North,” as Senén Florensa explained at the FEMISE annual conference 2016 held in Athens.Florensa suggests including local government representatives from the countries concerned and independent experts from the Southern Mediterranean (academics, business leaders…) in the revised European Neighbourhood Policy’s actions. “The Commission’s European Neighbourhood Policy needs to break out of its technocratic view of things,” stresses the Spanish economist. But will Brussels heed these recommendations? It seems unlikely. “In its bulletin issued in November 2015, the European Commission failed to provide any clear response to the questions raised at the consultation,” adds Florensa. It at least underlined that, as far as development aid is concerned, the Barcelona Process was unique.Interview with N.B.C. during the FEMISE’ annual conference (13-14 February, 2016, Athens, Greece). To find out more on the conference and the speech given by Mr. Senén Florensa, click here.

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