One Year On: A Balance Sheet of the EU’s Response to the Arab Spring
The Arab Spring can be read as a revolt against adaptive authoritarianism in a globalizing world, defined in part through state capture of the economy alongside persistent and deepening repressive practices that resulted in soaring food prices, bulging youth unemployment, and staggering socio-economic inequalities. This authoritarian adaptation to globalization was not only a domestic development. It was supported by external players, such as the EU, that contented themselves with this authoritarianism for the sake of a specious stability.
After dithering, the EU admitted its past failings and unambiguously declared support for the democratic aspirations of the Middle Eastern peoples. In practice, it did so by revising the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The motto of the ENP review is “3 Ms”: money, markets, and mobility, to be deployed in the neighborhood following the principle of “more for more.” However, a year on, delving into the details of what has — and has not — been done reveals important weaknesses at the core of the EU’s overall response to the historic change underway to its south.