The European Security Strategy and the Neighbourhood Policy: A New Starting Point for a Euro-Mediterranean Security Partnership?

Prof. Dr. Sven Biscop

Royal Institute for International Relations, Brussels

Paper presented at EUSA Ninth Biennial International Conference

Austin, Texas, 31 March – 2 April 2005

Royal Institute for International Relations (IRRI-KIIB)
Rue de Namur 69, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Tel. (++32) 02/223.41.14 – Fax (++32) 02/223.41.16

On 12 December 2003 the European Council adopted the European Security Strategy, ‘A Secure Europe in a Better World’, the first ever common strategic vision of the Member States. The first level at which the Strategy as a framework for a comprehensive approach to security, and in fact to EU external action in general, can be put into practice is that of the EU’s neighbourhood. ‘Building security in our neighbourhood’ has in fact been an objective actively pursued by the EU, since the fall of the Berlin Wall as far as the continent of Europe is concerned, and since at least the creation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) as regards its Southern periphery. It is also the focus of one of the EU’s major new projects: the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). This paper will assess the potential of the ENP as a framework for the implementation of the comprehensive approach advocated by the Strategy, as well as the challenges to be addressed for the ENP to be successful.

The European Security Strategy: A Choice for Comprehensive Security

The starting point of the Strategy’s comprehensive approach is the recognition of the interdependence between all dimensions of security – political, socio-economic, cultural, ecologic, military – hence the need to formulate integrated policies on all of them (Biscop, 2005). This comprehensive approach is translated into the overall objective of ‘effective multilateralism’, i.e. ‘a stronger international society, well functioning international institutions and a rule-based international order’. At the global level, the EU seeks to pursue this objective mainly through the UN, which the Strategy sees as the core of the international system, and through the other global and regional partnerships and organizations. With regard to its neighbourhood, the EU will itself assume a leading role in order to ‘promote a ring of well governed countries to the East of the European Union and on the borders of the Mediterranean with whom we can enjoy close and cooperative relations’. The same approach is to be followed at both levels: dialogue, cooperation and partnership in all fields of external action, putting to value the whole range of instruments at the disposal of the EU.

De facto, this approach amounts to promoting effective global governance, which can be best understood as a system that at the global level ensures access to the same core public goods which the state provides to its citizens at the national level. These global public goods (GPG) can e.g. be summarized as: international stability and security, an open and inclusive economic system, an enforceable legal order, and global welfare in all its dimensions as an equivalent to national welfare systems. At a certain level of inequality in terms of access to these core GPG, the resulting political instability and extremism, economic unpredictability and massive migration flows risk to become uncontrollable. This gap between haves and have-nots therefore represents the ultimate systemic threat to international security (Coolsaet and Arnould, 2004). GPG are not explicitly mentioned in the Strategy, but: ‘spreading good governance, supporting social and political reform, dealing with corruption and abuse of power, establishing the rule of law and protecting human rights are the best means of strengthening the international order’. So without any doubt, the emphasis in the Strategy is on a long-term policy of stabilisation and conflict prevention through the promotion of global governance.

But of course, dialogue, cooperation and partnership cannot be unconditional. States violating the norms of behaviour vis-à-vis the international community or their own population ‘should understand that there is a price to be paid, including in their relationship with the European Union’. Partnership with the EU can thus be cut back or enhanced according to performance, for: ‘We want international organizations, regimes and treaties to be effective in confronting threats to international peace and security, and must therefore be ready to act when their rules are broken’. In certain cases this can include the use of force, but certainly not exclusively – implicitly, the Strategy considers the use of force as an instrument of last resort, in principle to be applied only with a Security Council mandate. The EU aims for ‘early, rapid, and when necessary, robust intervention’, but this applies to ‘the full spectrum of instruments for crisis management and conflict prevention at our disposal, including political, diplomatic, military and civilian, trade and development activities’.

On the whole, the Strategy is a positive project, emphasizing positive objectives – ‘effective multilateralism’ or the core GPG. ‘What for’ rather than ‘against whom’ is the question that determines policy. Thus the comprehensive approach avoids the classic security dilemma. The added value of comprehensive security lies in the integration of all fields of external action under this single agenda of ‘effective multilateralism’. ‘Securitization’ of policy fields other than ESDP, i.e. treating issues as politico-military or ‘hard’ security problems and consequently applying politico-military instruments to solve them, is equally avoided however. Under the global heading of promoting ‘effective multilateralism’, the politico-military is just one dimension of external action, at the same level as the other fields. Thus, the implementation of the Strategy should lead to the opposite of ‘securitization’: issues should be dealt with as development, human rights, ecologic problems etc. and should only be put in a politico-military or security perspective when developments threaten to have direct security consequences for the population of the state concerned, for the region or for the EU itself. In fact therefore, the Strategy really is more than a security strategy – it is a strategy for external action.

Even though until December 2003 no formal strategic concept existed, a distinctive European approach to security had already been emerging over the last few years. EU policies towards its neighbouring States have been particularly revealing with regard to the EU’s preference for a comprehensive and cooperative approach, aiming at cooperation rather than confrontation. Obviously, there have been exceptions to this line – in the Mediterranean, the conclusion of an Association Agreement with Algeria, quite regardless of ongoing violence in the country, is a case in point – and there will continue to be so. Nevertheless in the Strategy, the concept of comprehensive security has now been rubberstamped as the European approach to security.

Implementing the Strategy at the Regional Level: The European Neighbourhood Policy

‘Even in an era of globalisation, geography is still important’, the Strategy rightly points out. It is indeed the case that, while the security issues arising in the vicinity of the EU are global phenomena that are not specific to this region, their potential effects on the EU can still be greater because of geographic proximity. The EU and its neighbourhood, and certainly its neighbours on the European continent, can be considered a ‘security complex’ as defined by Buzan (1991): ‘a group of States whose primary security concerns link together sufficiently closely that their national securities cannot realistically be considered apart from one another’. It is but logical therefore that in this area the EU assumes responsibility and directly takes the lead in promoting peace and security, for a stable neighbourhood is a necessity for Europe’s own security. The actual development of the CFSP and ESDP can be seen in the light of Europe’s failure to fulfil exactly this ambition, notably on the Balkans in the early 1990s and, more recently, in Kosovo in 1999. In that sense, the inherent security dimension of the ENP also answers a long-standing call by the US for more burden-sharing, notably with regard to what Washington rightly sees as Europe’s backyard: the Balkans. Promoting stability in Europe’s neighbourhood can even be seen as a responsibility or a duty, since the EU is the only local actor with the means to do so. Through its force of attraction, the EU has succeeded in stabilising the European continent; now it has to replicate that success in a wider neighbourhood. The Strategy offers an ambitious definition of how far this neighbourhood reaches: the Balkans; ‘our neighbours to the East’, i.e. Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus, the three remaining countries between the EU and Russia after the accession of Rumania and Bulgaria in 2007; the Southern Caucasus; and the Mediterranean.

Since 1995 the EU is committed to the comprehensive EMP, now between the 25 and ten Mediterranean partners: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority; Libya has been invited to join on the condition of accepting the acquis of the partnership. The EU Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East, adopted by the June 2004 European Council, widens the scope of Europe’s ambitions to the ‘Wider Middle East’: the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), i.e. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, plus Yemen, Iran and Iraq.

The neighbourhood can be seen as the area in which the EU deems it has a specific responsibility for peace and security, and therefore aspires to a directly leading role, as opposed to its general contribution to global stability through the UN as outlined under the objective of ‘effective multilateralism’. The Strategy puts down the general principle of building comprehensive and cooperative relations in the political, economic, cultural and security fields with the States concerned, a ‘ring of friends’, in order to increase security, i.e. an approach that emphasises a structural, long-term policy of stabilisation and prevention. It does not go into detail as to the instruments that the EU can apply to make these relations work, but of course several instruments already exist or are being envisaged. The potentially most effective instrument is the comprehensive Neighbourhood Policy first proposed by the Commission under the heading of ‘Wider Europe’. Somewhat surprisingly, the ENP is not explicitly mentioned in the Strategy, but the title of the second strategic objective has been changed from ‘extending the zone of security around Europe’ to ‘building security in our neighbourhood’. The potential of the ENP, and the challenges that it poses, can be illustrated by the case of the Mediterranean and the ‘Wider Middle East’ (Biscop, 2004).

The Mixed Record of the EMP

The comprehensive approach put forward as a general strategy for EU external action was already underlying the EMP, or Barcelona Process, at the partnership’s founding conference in 1995. This is evident from the composition of its three baskets, which cover the whole range of relations between the EU and its Southern neighbours: a political and security partnership, an economic and financial partnership and a partnership in social, cultural and human affairs. The EMP added a politico-military dimension to the traditionally economic focus of Europe’s Mediterranean policies, but firmly embedded it in a broad framework of relations. In this framework, there is a strong emphasis on dialogue and co-ownership. The Strategy has thus confirmed the basic orientation of the EMP.

The ongoing armed conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, which has been clouding the Mediterranean and the ‘Wider Middle East’ for decades, is of course foremost among the region’s security concerns. Although it does not pose a direct security threat to the EU, the conflict has important negative consequences for EU interests: it is an important cause of the stagnation of cooperation in the EMP, in all fields; it serves to radicalize public opinion; and thus creates a breeding ground for extremism. With regard to the Mediterranean, the analysis of the underlying causes of instability, disputes and conflict in terms of access to GPG is particularly revealing. A number of authoritarian regimes lacking legitimacy have to rely on security forces, and the armed forces, to control the opposition and muster popular support. The armed forces are thus primarily an instrument of domestic politics; States have built large military apparatus, absorbing large shares of national revenue and often playing a determining role in politics and society. The lack of legitimacy is a consequence of the inability to provide for the basic public goods to which every human being is entitled and is exacerbated by the repression of political opposition, which from the perspective of the regimes and associated elites is inevitable, for because of their poor performance democratisation would undoubtedly lead to their removal from power and thus the loss of the wealth which they acquire by running the State. The result has been a radicalization of the opposition, leading mostly to the growth of Islamist movements, including extreme factions that support the use of violence. The strength of Islamism is closely linked to a dense network of mosques and associated organizations, which often provide certain social services that the State is unable or unwilling to organize. Several regimes haves thus created their own extremists, which primarily have a domestic agenda: overthrowing the current regime.

In the medium to long term, the huge – and widening – gap between haves and have-nots in terms of access to the basic public goods should be considered the primary security concern in the region. Attempting to maintain the status quo is thus not an option, even though at first glance the present situation might appear quite stable, for it contains the root causes of instability.

In order to divert attention away from domestic problems, regimes often revert to fierce nationalist rhetoric, often of an anti-Israeli nature, a theme which strikes a chord with public opinion. At the same time however regimes thus confirm the views of Islamist factions, to whom this theme comes natural, which also makes it easier for the latter to spread the more general anti-American or anti-Western views that often complement their opposition to the domestic regimes. A number of regimes haves thus engaged in a game that they cannot win: going along with anti-Israeli and anti-American/anti-Western views might temporarily sooth public opinion, but in the end serves only to reinforce the legitimacy of the Islamists, as these regimes can never live up to their rhetoric, being as they are dependent on American and European economic – and often military – support. The invasion of Iraq has certainly reinforced the appeal of extremist Islamist factions.

A side-effect of nationalist foreign policies and competition for scarce resources is the very low level of regional integration among the Southern Mediterranean States. Existing regional organizations, such as the League of Arab States, have very limited impact or have been paralyzed by internal differences, such as the Arab Maghreb Union. In the framework of the EMP, the Southern partners therefore do not act as a group and have shown very little enthusiasm for multilateral programmes and activities. This lack of political integration reflects the limited nature of economic relations between the Southern States: intra-Southern trade accounts for just 10% of their trade, while more than half of their trade is with the EU.

From Affirmation to Implementation

The EMP has not fundamentally altered this situation. Simply reaffirming the ‘spirit of Barcelona’ in the Strategy is therefore insufficient; the partnership is in need of revitalisation. Indeed, the Strategy itself states that the Mediterranean ‘generally continues to undergo serious problems of economic stagnation, social unrest and unresolved conflicts. The European Union’s interests require a continued engagement with Mediterranean partners, through more effective economic, security and cultural cooperation in the framework of the Barcelona Process’.

The ENP offers an opportunity to achieve this objective. The aim of the Neighbourhood Policy is to achieve ‘an area of shared prosperity and values’ by creating close partnerships with the EU’s neighbouring States, bringing them as close to the EU as possible without being a member, which should lead to in-depth economic integration, close political and cultural relations and a joint responsibility for conflict prevention. The aim of the ENP can also be seen as preventing dilution of the EU by putting a brake on enlargement – a neighbour by definition lives in the house next door, as a diplomat worded it. To that end, the EU is to offer very concrete ‘benefits’, basically a stake in the EU’s internal market, to be accompanied by further integration and liberalisation to promote the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital – ‘the four freedoms’. The Commission proposes inter alia the following incentives: extension of the internal market and regulatory structures; preferential trade relations and market opening; perspectives for lawful migration and movement of persons; integration into transport, energy and telecommunications networks and the European research area; new instruments for investment promotion and protection; and support for integration into the global trading system. Through a process of ‘positive conditionality’, these benefits will be linked to political and economic reform. The Neighbourhood Policy thus has a wide stabilizing and preventive scope.

As the Commission (2004) proposes: ‘The privileged relationship with neighbours will build on mutual commitment to common values principally within the fields of the rule of law, good governance, the respect for human rights, including minority rights, the promotion of good neighbourly relations, and the principles of market economy and sustainable development. Commitments will also be sought to certain essential aspects of the EU’s external action, including, in particular, the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as abidance by international law and efforts to achieve conflict resolution’.

The Neighbourhood Policy’s ultimate objectives could thus be interpreted as (Coolsaet and Biscop, 2004):

The Neighbourhood Policy does not aim to replace existing frameworks for relations, such as the EMP; rather it wants to supplement and build on them. The idea is to strike a balance between, on the one hand, bilateral Action Plans, so that benefits and benchmarks for progress can be tailored to specific needs and circumstances, in agreement with the individual partner countries, and, on the other hand, multilateral partnerships such as the Barcelona Process, in order to deal with regional issues and to promote regional integration between partners. The latter is the key to mending the institutional unbalance within the EMP, which sees a closely integrated EU of now 25 Member States facing ten partner States that are only loosely involved in any kind of regional consultation. The Action Plans, to cover the next three to five years, are to address five key areas: political dialogue and reform; trade and measures preparing partners for gradually obtaining a stake in the EU’s internal market; justice and home affairs; energy, transport, information society, environment and research and innovation; and social policy and people-to-people contacts (European Commission, 2004).

Among the first batch of Action Plans approved by the EU in December 2004, following exploratory talks with the countries concerned, were those for Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia (next to those for Ukraine and Moldova). True to the ‘tailor-made principle’, these Action Plans reflect the differences in the state of development and the willingness to reform and deepen relations with the EU in the States concerned. In the field of democratization e.g., objectives are decidedly more ambitious, and more concrete, in the Action Plans for Jordan and the Palestinian Authority than in those for Morocco and Tunisia. The Action Plans also have to be approved by the joint bilateral bodies established under the existing bilateral Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements, which will also be responsible for advancing and monitoring their implementation. The Commission will draw up periodic reports on progress. The next step, if Action Plan priorities are met, could be the conclusion of European Neighbourhood Agreements to replace the current Association Agreements. The Action Plans are not very operational however: they remain very vague on the question of which kinds of reform will be rewarded by which specific additional aid. The degree to which they effectively are ‘tailor-made’ should not be overstated either: the Action Plans do not allow to distinguish between the main obstacles to reform in the different States concerned (Youngs, 2005, p.6).

Actually, most of the measures that are now being proposed in the framework of Wider Europe are already among the established objectives of the EMP. This holds true for both substance and progress. E.g. in the 1995 Barcelona Declaration partners agreed to create ‘an area of shared prosperity’, to be based on ‘the progressive establishment of a free trade area’, economic cooperation and ‘a substantial increase in the EU’s financial assistance to its partners’. The EMP already comprises a mix of multilateral and regional activities on the one hand and Association Agreements and associated programmes that are negotiated bilaterally with the partners on the other hand. The emphasis in the ENP on the bilateral Action Plans should not lead to a dilution of the regional, multilateral dimension (Johansson-Nogués, 2004, p.244). There has certainly never been a lack of ideas to advance the EMP – it is their implementation that has been rather more problematic. The fact that reform has not advanced much further in the Arab States in the EMP than in those outside it, e.g. in the Gulf, highlights the Partnership’s limitations (Youngs, 2005, p.10).

There is a lack of ‘cross-pillar’ functioning in the EMP; each basket is run in a more or less autonomous way, without much coordination with the others. The Association Agreements ought to include provisions on political dialogue, human rights, rule of law etc., but in the actual agreements these remain limited to very general stipulations, and even those have never been invoked. The regulations on the MEDA Programme, the financial instrument of EU Mediterranean policy, link economic support to the promotion of human rights, fundamental freedoms and good-neighbourly relations, but here too in actual practice conditionality has been very limited if not non-existent (Lannon, Inglis and Haenebalcke, 2001; Schmid, 2003). The EU’s uncritical response to the Tunisian President Bin Ali’s 96 per cent election victory in October 2004 can serve as an example (Youngs, 2005, p.3). Not unimportantly, regimes have adopted the discourse of democracy, but tangible results are very limited. As a result, the comprehensive approach, which in theory links all the dimensions of Euro-Mediterranean relations together, has been insufficiently translated into practice. The impression created is that the EU prefers stability over democratization and reform.

On the other hand, for positive conditionality to be effective, a real ‘carrot’ should be offered by the EU. Currently, it seems as if the Mediterranean partners are suffering all the hardships entailed by the economic reforms necessitated by the projected free trade area, but without, in return, gaining much in terms of effective benefits, or even the near-term prospect of benefits. Undoubtedly, the most sensitive area in this regard is the EU’s agricultural policy, the protectionist character of which produces major negative effects for its Southern trade partners – not to mention for the EU budget. But in the textile sector as well, limits have been imposed; real free trade applies only to oil, gas and industrial products. The level of foreign direct investment from the EU has not significantly increased. It has been argued that the result of these half-hearted policies has actually been a worsening of socio-economic conditions in the partner countries (Tanner, 2004). For this situation to be amended, a substantial effort would be needed on the part of the EU. Today, the predominant feeling in the South seems to be one of resentment, against an EU that imposes difficult reforms but is perceived as not living up to its side of the bargain. It should not be forgotten though that bad management by local authorities, including excessive defence expenditure, and obstacles posed by traditional structures have equally contributed to the worsening of the economic situation, as was forcibly demonstrated by the Arab Human Development Reports. To the extent that local elites manage to control how the resources made available by the EU are applied, these can be made to reinforce the political and economic status quo rather than induce reform (Volpi, 2004, p.149).

With regard to the Mediterranean, the real added value of the Neighbourhood Policy thus is not in the substance of the measures, nor in the working methods proposed. Care should rather be taken to preserve the acquis of the EMP, so as not to lose its rich and varied approach to the many dimensions of Euro-Mediterranean relations (Ortega, 2003). What the Neighbourhood Policy does offer is an opportunity to re-launch the EMP, the possibility to have a fresh start.

To fully grasp that opportunity, the EU will have to address a number of major remaining challenges.  The Member States will first of all have to muster the necessary political will to invest sufficient means and offer the neighbouring States real benefits (Wallace, 2003). Even if membership is not on offer for the remaining Mediterranean partners – except Turkey – other, ‘silver’ carrots can be devised (Missiroli, 2004). Opening up to agricultural exports for one, or subsidizing major infrastructure projects. Free movement of persons as well can be a powerful incentive (Youngs, 2005, p.5). These benefits, or ‘new partnership perspectives’ as they are called in the Action Plans, ought to be formulated in a sufficiently concrete way in order to be credible. In the longer term, perhaps a ‘Marshall Plan’ for the Mediterranean could be the next grand project of the EU after enlargement, a major scheme as the only way to substantially and durably improve socio-economic conditions on the Southern shore (Ortega, 2003).

Secondly, allocation of these real benefits should truly be conditional on the implementation of the political reforms outlined in the Action Plans if progress is to be achieved within the – per definition non-coercive – partnership approach that characterizes the EU’s Mediterranean policy. According to Youngs (2004a), ‘The European approach might be likened to a desired “third way” between regime change and undimmed support for autocrats; one focussed on gradual, step-by-step political reform’ – but this cannot work without effective conditionality. This requires the definition of clear benchmarks, in order to measure progress, as part of a phased and dynamic process of reform and reward, including a timetable. In a 2003 Communication on human rights and democratisation in the Mediterranean, the Commission (2003b) already recommended that national action plans for human rights should include ‘a list of specific action points accompanied by measurable benchmarks of performance with clear timelines’. The ENP Action Plans should thus be supplemented by a true roadmap for reform. In the political field, respect for basic human rights and the rule of law must be the minimum condition to be fulfilled, a step which need not directly affect the current regimes’ power base, before moving on to gradual but effective democratization. If it does not become more operational, EU policy will not be able to escape the situation described by Youngs (2004a): ‘European democracy policy resembles a man trying to learn to swim without letting go of the riverbank: keen to reach the deep, rewarding waters of political transformation but reluctant to let go of the supportive engagement built up with Middle Eastern regimes’.

Thirdly, the EU must also address the question of whom it will cooperate with: not only with the regimes in place, but also with reformist actors in civil society? But will the EU cooperate with moderate Islamists? Islamist actors are the backbone of civil society (Volpi, 2004; Fuller, 2004) and can thus hardly be ignored – if in Europe Christian-democracy is an acceptable political current, then certainly ‘Muslim-democracy’ should be equally acceptable? This requires careful mapping of the political and civil society landscape in all States concerned. The EU must also avoid that its reformist partners have to face negative consequences because of their collaboration, e.g. imprisonment or other forms of harassment by the regimes in power. An inclusive policy, i.e. a policy that allows the input of local actors to be taken fully into account, seems to have the largest chance of success. In that regard the EU can build on the Commission (2003b) idea of organizing regular workshops with civil society at the national level, in order ‘to contribute to overall EU knowledge of local conditions’.

Perhaps the basic question is: how far does the EU aim to go? What is the ENP’s ultimate objective? If, eventually, full democratisation is the aim, are the partnership approach and EU instruments, i.e. the financial-economic ‘carrot’, really sufficient to achieve that? For as Youngs (2005, p.5) notes, even the States that are most desirous of economic integration, such as Tunisia, ‘show few signs of willing to trade this against improvements in human rights’. And is the EU willing to cope with the potential instability which this implies, and with the Islamist victories that elections might bring? Or will the EU be satisfied with a certain minimum level of respect for human rights, with a modus vivendi that is reconcilable with, on the one hand, European consciences and the rhetoric of democratisation and, on the other hand, the aims of the current regimes? But is that really an option – would it not be contradictory to the fundamental philosophy of the comprehensive approach to consciously ignore part of the gap in access to the basic GPGs that lies at the root of instability and frustration in the region? A ‘traditional’ security policy based on containment of threats, which often led to support for authoritarian but seemingly stable regimes, is no longer possible in our globalized world (Kaldor, 2004).

Without a substantial effort the Neighbourhood Policy will suffer the same fate as the ‘old’ EMP: well-intentioned principles, but very limited implementation. Promises only of the proverbial carrot and mere declarations about democracy will be insufficient, for they have been made too often already. Implementing the Neighbourhood Policy should be nothing less than a top priority. Currently, the EMP constitutes what Attinà (2004) terms a ‘regional security partnership’: because of the awareness of their security interdependence – the ‘security complex’ – a number of States that do not necessarily have shared values and institutions have decided, rather than creating opposing alliances, to increase security through cooperation and have gradually agreed to implement international and internal measures to that end. In the long term, if it is successful, the Neighbourhood Policy could, through permanent close interaction and sharing of norms and values, lead to the progressive emergence of a more integrated regional arrangement, to a new ‘security community’, i.e. ‘a trans-national region comprised of sovereign States whose people maintain dependable expectations of peaceful change’ (Adler and Barnett, 1998) encompassing the EU – a ‘security community’ in itself that is expanding through enlargement – and the neighbouring regions or sub-regions.

What of the Politico-Military Dimension?

Even though no direct ‘hard’ security threats to the EU are emanating from the Mediterranean, the EMP and the Neighbourhood Policy cannot do without a politico-military dimension as a necessary component of a comprehensive approach. The ‘hard’ security dimension, which is included in the first basket of the EMP, must complement policies in the other fields of external action. On the one hand, politico-military cooperation is an aspect of the long-term stabilization and conflict prevention that the comprehensive approach aims for: exchange of information, exchange of liaison officers, observing exercises, joint manoeuvres and eventually joint operations, arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament all increase mutual trust, both in North-South and South-South relations. Secondly, in the event of crises that may require some sort of military intervention, involving the threat or use of force or not, established politico-military cooperation provides a much more effective framework for consultation and, preferably, joint action than ad hoc arrangements or unilateral initiatives on the part of the EU or one or more of the Mediterranean partners. As ESDP continues to develop, the EU becomes an ever more capable actor in this field.

Proposals to enhance the security dimension of the EMP are abundant (Biscop, 2003). In its 2000 Common Strategy on the Mediterranean Region the EU already stated its intention ‘to make use of the evolving common European policy on security and defence to consider how to strengthen, together with its Med partners, cooperative security in the region’. From the beginning however, all efforts to add substance to this dimension have failed in the face of the unwillingness of the Mediterranean partners. Consequently, political dialogue has remained at a low level and only a few partnership measures have been implemented: a network of contact points for political and security matters; training seminars for diplomats; the EUROMESCO network of foreign policy institutes; a register of bilateral agreements among the partner countries; exchange of information on partner countries’ adherence to international conventions on terrorism, human rights, arms control and disarmament, armed conflict and international law; and a pilot project on natural and man-made disasters. These measures are limited not only in number, but also in scope: they are mainly declaratory and deal with neither military cooperation nor crisis management. Measures regarding arms control, disarmament or non-proliferation are conspicuously absent, even though these are among the region’s most important ‘hard’ security issues.

The Valencia Action Plan adopted by the fifth Euro-Mediterranean Conference (22-23 April 2002), an important attempt to define concrete actions to further the EMP, listed ‘effective dialogue on political and security matters, including on the ESDP’ among the measures to be taken. Subsequently, on 19 March 2003, the Council endorsed a set of proposals aiming to open up ESDP to the Mediterranean partners. An enhanced dialogue has been created, including meetings between the troika of the Political and Security Committee (PSC) and the Brussels heads of mission of the Mediterranean partners once each Presidency, as well as meetings at expert level; partners can also establish contact with the Secretariat General of the Council and with the Commission. Flexibility has been introduced – partners can themselves decide on the scope and intensity of their participation – and progressiveness. The initial aim is to familiarize partners with ESDP objectives and procedures. In a mid-term perspective partners that are willing can be invited to observe manoeuvres, to appoint liaison officers to the EU Military Staff and to participate in EU training courses. This gradual process should pave the road to participation by Mediterranean partners in actual EU-led crisis management operations, to which the Council can invite them on a case-by-case basis. [1] In spite of this offer on the part of the EU, partner countries initially remained extremely reluctant to engage however and the dialogue at first gained little substance.

Foremost to explain this lack of political will is the Middle East conflict. The eternal conflict between Israel and Palestine is the main stumbling-block for an enhanced security partnership between both shores of the Mediterranean. One cannot expect partners to engage in far-reaching security cooperation when they are divided on the question of an armed conflict that clouds the whole region, and when moreover a number of them criticize EU policy on the issue for being too passive. Furthermore, authoritarian regimes abuse the conflict as a ground of legitimacy. Significant steps towards a resolution of the conflict are a necessary prerequisite for a security partnership to really take off. Proposals for a security partnership that ignore resolution of ongoing conflicts – including the case of the Western Sahara – are not taken seriously. Since EU enlargement on 1 May 2004, the importance of the Middle East conflict for the EMP has become even more pronounced, for with the accession of Cyprus and Malta, and with Turkey having a special status as a candidate member and as a NATO Ally, the partners comprise only the Mediterranean Arab countries and Israel (Tanner, 2004, p.140). The Strategy stresses that resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a ‘strategic priority’, for indeed ‘without this, there will be little chance of dealing with other problems’. The Middle East conflict receives additional emphasis in the final version, which as compared to the first draft adds a strong call for a joint effort by the EU, the US, the UN and Russia to implement the ‘two state-solution’.  Regardless of the position of the US though, as the Commission (2003a) has stated, ‘The EU should take a more active role to facilitate settlement of the disputes over Palestine […] Greater EU involvement in crisis management in response to specific regional threats would be a tangible demonstration of the EU’s willingness to assume a greater share of the burden of conflict resolution in the neighbouring countries’.

Reaching a ‘permanent two-state solution’ is listed among the topics for political dialogue and cooperation in the Action Plans with Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but it is doubtful whether this will be translated into operational objectives and benchmarks – until now, the EU has never been willing to utilize the economic instrument to pressurize the parties in the conflict, in spite of its enormous potential, at least if put to use in conjunction with a similar US initiative.

The dissatisfaction with the EU’s limited investment in the financial and economic chapter is a second reason. It is often felt that the EU puts undue emphasis on the security aspects of the EMP, to the detriment of the economic basket which the Mediterranean partners consider to be the field for priority action.

Thirdly, there is certain distrust with regard to ESDP itself. With the Gulf War and the intervention in Kosovo in mind, there is a fear to become objects of ‘Western interventionism’. In the mid-1990s the formation of two multinational military units, EUROFOR and EUROMARFOR, by the EU’s Southern Member States was already viewed with considerable suspicion. Indeed, states on the Southern shore of the Mediterranean considered the units to be mainly directed against them. In view of the initial absence of a strategic concept, it was easy to see the development of the ESDP and the creation of a rapid reaction force for the EU in a similar light. It is not difficult to imagine how the debate on ‘pre-emption’ can fuel this fear of ‘interventionism’. Research shows however that more important than actual distrust is a generalized lack of information about ESDP – which can of course easily be abused to create distrust, notably by nationalist and Islamist sectors of society. This lack of information either leads to scepticism regarding the ability of the EU to become an effective international security actor or, quite the opposite, to unrealistically high expectations regarding a potential EU role in the Middle East conflict. There are positive views of ESDP also however, because its development is seen as evidence of multilateralism and as a way to balance the US (de Vasconcelos, 2004; Jünemann, 2003). These positive sentiments must be built upon.

Fourthly, on a more general level, in the partner countries there is limited interest in the Mediterranean as an organizing concept of policy, both among policy-makers and academics. The EMP is mostly seen as a way of addressing bilateral relations with the EU; regional dynamics and South-South regional integration between the Mediterranean partners receive far less attention. From the perspective of the EU, security is an obvious dimension of its Neighbourhood Policy, but for the partner countries, ‘Mediterranean security in itself does not seem to have an autonomous raison d’être’ (Soltan, 2004), hence their lack of enthusiasm for multilateral security cooperation at the regional level. It should also be acknowledged that Mediterranean partners are less familiar with notions such as comprehensive and cooperative security and confidence and security-building measures.

Finally, it must not be ignored that with regard to those partner States that have authoritarian forms of government and where the armed forces play an important part in politics, politico-military cooperation with the EU is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it could serve to enhance the status of the current regime – which might in some cases run counter to EU objectives in the field of democratization, human rights and the rule of law. On the other hand, cooperation that is conditional upon reform in precisely those fields would undermine the position of these regimes, which explains why they are not very forthcoming. Furthermore, large parts of public opinion are often not in favour of security cooperation with ‘the West’, which again would have negative consequences for the regimes’ internal power base.

Enhancing the Politico-Military Dimension: An Incremental Process

Obviously, in view of the reluctance of the Mediterranean partners, enhancing the politico-military dimension of the EMP cannot be but a very incremental process. In the field of ‘hard’ security, the EU has a major problem of credibility vis-à-vis its Mediterranean partners, which rules out any grand schemes in the near future. But as this lack of credibility is to a large extent based on a lack of information, which is at the same time an important source of distrust, it is not without mending.

The inclusion of politico-military cooperation in the ENP Action Plans proves as much. Effectively establishing contact points with the ESDP bodies, a deepened dialogue and exploring the possibilities for actual participation in ESDP exercises and operations are mentioned in the Action Plans for Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. This seems to indicate that politico-military cooperation is more acceptable if part of a wider, comprehensive framework. Since November 2004, the dialogue on ESDP has been fully integrated in the EMP bodies rather than taking place separately with the heads of mission in Brussels. In the framework of the Action Plans, politico-military cooperation could thus also be promoted through ‘positive conditionality’. This increased willingness might also be related to a quest for support in view of the international context, in which terrorism and proliferation – particularly with regard to Iran – continue to be high on the agenda, as well as the fear for the potential spill-over effects of the conflict in Iraq – all of them issues with which the Southern States are most directly confronted.

In fact, the framework of the Action Plans is absolutely necessary, especially in view of the international context, in order to ensure the comprehensive nature of the approach, i.e. to maintain the link between politico-military cooperation, political reform and economic support that is at the core of the Strategy. In the absence of this link, and thus of conditionality, politico-military cooperation might be counterproductive with regard to the objective of promoting democratization, respect for human rights and the rule of law. Security sector reform should actually be among the explicit objectives of the EU, especially in the context of the ongoing fight against terrorism, the label of which is all too easily abused by security agencies and armed forces to silence legitimate opposition. The Commission (2003b) issued a warning in that sense: ‘A tension between internal security concerns and the promotion and protection of human rights can result in negative consequences in human rights terms, particularly apparent under the umbrella of the “war on terror”’.

The EU should absolutely avoid that politico-military cooperation strengthens the authoritarian nature of any of the regimes in power or dilutes the focus on conditionality. In that light, it would certainly be counter-productive to put Euro-Mediterranean cooperation too exclusively in the perspective of the fight against terrorism and proliferation, both of which have been high on the agenda of the EMP ever since ‘9/11’. Rather politico-military cooperation (in the framework of ESDP) and cooperation on justice and home affairs issues should also be subject to the general principle of ‘positive conditionality’.

To which extent the Action Plans will succeed in giving substance to the politico-military dimension remains to be seen. The EU could consider accompanying initiatives to enhance the chance of success.

Firstly, the EU could step up its efforts to communicate about the aims and nature of ESDP. The absence of a strategic concept for ESDP was an important cause of suspicion regarding the true intentions of the EU. Now that the Strategy has filled this strategic vacuum, the document should be publicized much more than it is. Even within the EU, the Strategy is little known outside the small circles of policy-makers and experts. The EU could consider an exercise in outreach, not only in the limited framework of the EMP dialogue on ESDP, but also to academia, journalists and NGOs in the partner countries. The EUROMESCO network could play an important role in this regard.

Perhaps in a later stage such a dialogue about the Strategy could lead to a truly joint reflection on the specifics of the Mediterranean region, along the same lines as the Strategy – the challenges posed by the security environment, the objectives, and their policy implications – in order to arrive at a common document at the regional level, next to the bilateral Action Plans, which could put down guidelines for cooperation and serve as a framework for an enhanced security partnership similar to the way the Strategy does – or should – for EU external action. By tackling it from this new angle, the debate on the Euro-Mediterranean Charter for Peace and Stability, which has been moribund ever since at the 1999 Stuttgart Ministerial it was decided to postpone its adoption until ‘political circumstances allow’, could be given a new impetus, be it not in the short term.

Secondly, the EU need not wait for the dialogue on ESDP to have advanced further to invite partner countries to participate in its operations. The take-over of SFOR by Operation Althea presents an excellent opportunity for the EU to invite its Mediterranean partners, for a number of them have already taken part in NATO operations in the Balkans. Morocco, which in the first half of 2004 had 350 troops in SFOR and a field battalion in Kosovo (KFOR), participated in Althea from the start. Egypt and Jordan as well have taken part in IFOR, SFOR’s predecessor, in the past, while the latter has also participated in KFOR. For these countries at least, taking part in an EU operation using NATO assets, i.e. in a very similar framework, on familiar terrain, ought to be politically feasible. The EU and NATO could very well take a joint initiative to put the proposal to all the States involved in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue – Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia – and to the other Mediterranean partners of the EU. Taking part in an actual EU operation and witnessing ESDP functioning in the field should go a long way to improve the credibility of the EU. Participation would of course be on a voluntary basis, open at all times to the Mediterranean partners that are willing.

As Ministers noted at the Naples Euro-Mediterranean Conference (2-3 December 2003), ‘some of the Mediterranean partners already work with the EU in peacekeeping activities (Balkans, Africa) under the UN aegis’. E.g. in 2004 Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia all contributed to MONUC, the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On the EU side in that same period Sweden was present with a military contingent of 86, while Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Spain and the UK contributed observers and/or police. From June to September 2003, the EU at the request of the UN also implemented an operation of its own, ‘Artemis’, to secure the area around the city of Bunia in the Eastern province of Ituri. Such common participation in a UN operation could be the subject of a fruitful exchange in the framework of the EMP dialogue on ESDP, on lessons learned, best practices etc. It could also lay the foundations for involvement of Mediterranean partners in future EU operations, in Africa e.g., particularly operations at the request of the UN. Would an intervention in crises such as that in the Darfur region of Sudan, i.e. if the international community could muster the necessary political will, not lend itself to Euro-Mediterranean cooperation? As the EU gradually takes on a more ‘expeditionary’ role, as can be expected, taking on more responsibility for international peace and security and implementing the Strategy, those Mediterranean partners that are willing could easily be involved.

These very concrete steps would all contribute to increasing confidence between both sides of the Mediterranean and to enhancing the credibility of the EU as an international actor, thus preparing the ground for a deepening and institutionalization of the security dimension of the EMP in the longer term, in which further-reaching steps can then be imagined. These steps should take into account the need for a strong multilateral dimension, as an important South-South confidence-building measure:

Finally and more generally, in the longer term an update of the Common Strategy on the Mediterranean Region can be considered. A new text, concise, along the lines of the Strategy, but also more precise, to be elaborated in much closer consultation with the Mediterranean partners than the current document, could summarize the new approach, based on the Strategy, the Neighbourhood Policy and the joint reflection on security proposed above, and translate this into operational objectives.

Schemes for the Wider – Greater – Broader Middle East

Because of the predominance of the Middle East conflict, without significant steps towards its resolution other schemes for the region have very limited chances of success. The American ‘Greater Middle East Initiative’ (GMEI) is a case in point. This originally very ambitious scheme to promote democracy in the ‘Greater Middle East’, which in the American definition includes the Arab States, Israel, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, was subsequently watered down in the course of a number of summits taking place in June 2004 (EU-US, Arab League, European Council, NATO), because of the extremely reluctant reactions of the Middle Eastern States concerned. Also at its May 2004 Summit, the Arab League adopted a ‘Pledge of Accord and Solidarity’, in which leaders called for ‘broader participation in public affairs’ and for human rights and the strengthening of the role of women ‘in line with our faith, values and traditions’. The document can be seen as a local response to the external GMEI, although its value on the ground is questionable.

It is difficult to see how such an initiative on the part of the US could have met with any other reaction, in spite of former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s positive picture (2004), in the context of the widely contested American-led occupation of Iraq and of American passivity with regard to, or even outright support for, unilateral actions by the Sharon government that run contrary to the agreed road to peace in the Middle East conflict. It could be said that the Bush administration just lacks the moral authority in the region to propose democratic changes. The GMEI also seems to span just too large an area, which comprises States that are too different for a single unified approach to be workable, and which does not constitute a single ‘security complex’. The area of application seems to have been defined by the needs of the US’ ‘war on terrorism’ rather than by any inherent characteristics. These differences imply that even if a stabile, democratic Iraq emerges in the short term, a democratic domino-effect in the region is highly unlikely. In the words of former European Commissioner Chris Patten: ‘developing democracy is not like making instant coffee’ (quoted in Youngs, 2004b, p.5). Furthermore the GMEI has at least been perceived as putting too much emphasis on external intervention, on ‘imposing’ democracy – as opposed to the partnership approach advocated by the EU – and thus ignoring the internal dynamics that are necessary to achieve any durable change. And popular criticism of current regimes does not necessarily translate into support for external intervention; in the wake of the invasion of Iraq, any American or British involvement in particular is highly sensitive (Niblock, 2003).

These criticisms seem to have been taken into account when on 9 June 2004 the G8 summit finally adopted a much more moderate ‘Partnership for Progress and a Common Future with the Region of the Broader Middle East and North Africa’. The G8 document mentions the need to coordinate different initiatives and includes a detailed list of measures envisaging supporting internally driven economic and political reform, but lacks references to budgets and concrete implementation. The focus is on literacy, vocational training, entrepreneurship, business development and microfinance rather than on democratization and references to conditionality are lacking (Youngs, 2004b, p.11). Furthermore, although a new Forum for the Future is to bring together annually the G8 and the States from the region, involvement and commitment from the region actually appears superficial (Gärber, 2004, p. 93). The impact of the G8 initiative therefore seems doubtful.

In Search of EU-US Cooperation

All this is not to say of course that promoting reform is not necessary in the States of the region, which is precisely one of the long-standing objectives of the EMP – the EU has not ‘discovered’ the need for democratization after ‘9/11’ (Perthes, 2004). Youngs (2005, p.1) rightly notes that ‘a glance at the Barcelona Declaration encourages the conclusion that much recent debate has been guilty of reinventing this conceptual wheel’. Therefore, US efforts would seem better spent supporting the established EMP and the ENP rather than by launching a separate initiative, with a joint EU-US shift to a higher gear being possible after steps have been taken with regard to the Middle East conflict. The watered-down US proposals are in fact very close to what the EU is already doing – or attempting – in the framework of the EMP/ENP. Looking at the reality behind the rhetoric from Washington and Brussels, one finds that in actual practice the EU and the US fund very similar civil society, governance and education projects, which ‘suffices to render unconvincing the notion that the US only does hard power’ (Youngs, 2004b, p.7). There certainly is sufficient common ground on which to found close cooperation.

As to the countries outside the EMP, the Strategy states that ‘a broader engagement with the Arab world should also be considered’. This can be seen as a reference to the report that Romano Prodi, Javier Solana and Chris Patten submitted to the December 2003 European Council, ‘Strengthening EU’s Relations with the Arab World’, in which they recommend, for the States outside the Barcelona Process, ‘to explore proposals for a possible regional strategy for the Wider Middle East, comprising relations with GCC countries, Yemen, Iraq and Iran’. This one sentence in the Strategy thus ambitiously extends the EU’s definition of its neighbourhood, but rightly so, for relations with these States are less developed, while at the same time certain security issues affecting the members of the EMP, notably in the Middle East, obviously cannot be tackled without them. Proliferation is the obvious example; the long-standing idea of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East could only be elaborated in such a wider framework. These States would not be included in the Neighbourhood Policy or the EMP, but an additional framework is envisaged which would be closely linked to both existing frameworks. A strategy document to that end was adopted by the June 2004 European Council, the EU Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East or ‘Wider Middle East’. Again, the US could support this initiative and envisage further joint steps in a later stage. Indeed, an effective partnership with the Mediterranean and the Greater/Wider Middle East is more crucial to the EU than to the US, because of geographic proximity, the EU’s greater energy dependence and the large Arab population living within the EU. But within the EU itself as well, an exercise in coordination seems absolutely necessary, as it is far from clear yet how exactly the different policy frameworks – EMP, Neighbourhood Policy, Wider Middle East – will relate to each other.

EU-US cooperation is the key, with regard to the Middle East conflict, as each is only accepted as an impartial mediator by one party to the conflict, and with regard to comprehensive partnerships in the Mediterranean and the Gulf regions, as only their combined financial and other efforts will have a sufficient impact. The rapid succession of international initiatives with regard to the region certainly calls for thorough coordination. Unfortunately, Brussels and Washington are often divided on the approach to be taken. E.g. the former considered the Middle East conflict as the absolute priority to be dealt with before there is the slightest chance of success of dealing with any other matter, while the latter seemed to hope that somehow, the problem will disappear almost by itself if only Iraq can be stabilized and then the process of democratization of the ‘Greater Middle East’ can be launched. As Ottaway and Carothers (2004) frankly put it: ‘The attempt to launch a new initiative without discussing the peace process is a triumph of abstract logic over political reality’. In fact, it can be argued that the US has already missed an enormous opportunity to re-launch the peace process by opting for support for harsh and un-reconciling Israeli policies, under the guise of anti-terrorism, instead of brokering an agreement when, immediately following ‘9/11’, a lull in the violence occurred as everybody was stunned by the horrendous events and their potential impact on the region. Fortunately, the new situation after the death of President Arafat created a new window of opportunity. In any case, the conclusion is that an EU-US forum for permanent consultation and coordination of policies on the Mediterranean and the Greater/Wider/Broader Middle East is more than necessary.

Coordinating with NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue

Since 1994, NATO as well has a Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) with now seven States: Egypt, Israel, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan (since 1995) and Algeria (since 2000). At its June 2004 Istanbul summit, NATO decided to enhance the MD, deepening the partnership with current Dialogue countries as well as offering a framework to the States of the GCC through the ‘Istanbul Cooperation Initiative’. Although one would expect that Southern States’ objections to security cooperation in the context of the EMP would also apply to NATO, they have in fact been less reluctant towards the Alliance, certainly so since the Istanbul summit. The international context of course plays a large role again, but more importantly NATO, which is generally associated with the US, does not suffer the same lack of credibility as ESDP – although in the current context, this perception of American dominance is of course a double-edged sword. NATO has been very successful in the past: without any doubt, the participation of Dialogue countries in NATO operations (IFOR/SFOR and KFOR) is a great success; it is probably the most important achievement of the NATO MD.

The Dialogue suffers from an inherent limitation however. Because of the nature of the Alliance, the NATO MD obviously concerns only the politico-military dimension, which renders the implementation of the comprehensive approach, linking security cooperation to commitments in other fields, very difficult. E.g. Algeria, which originally was not invited to join the MD because of its internal crisis, was admitted in 2000, in spite of ongoing violence in which both the government and extremist Islamists were involved; the political opportunity of this move was highly questionable. Clearly, the EMP, which is more comprehensive in terms of both membership and substance, is the framework offering the better prospects for partnership with and reform in the South, which is not to say that the NATO MD is not very valuable as a North-South confidence-building measure (Biscop, 2002; Malmvig, 2004). It could be argued however that the existence of several frameworks for security dialogue with the Mediterranean alongside each other in itself is one of the causes of Mediterranean States’ reluctance to engage in security partnership, as it is not clear to them what is the purpose of all these separate schemes: the EMP, the NATO MD, and the OSCE as well has its ‘Mediterranean Partners for Cooperation’ – Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.

In view of their similar objectives, and in order to ensure that all actions, including those in the economic and social baskets of the Barcelona Process, are mutually reinforcing, increased coordination of the NATO MD and the EMP certainly is the way ahead. Currently, coordination is limited to informal exchanges of information between NATO and the EU. Perhaps in the longer term, in view of the more comprehensive nature of the EMP, NATO MD activities should be focussed on the EMP agenda, in order to achieve maximal complementarity. This would also meet at least part of Southern partners’ concerns regarding coordination between the different dialogues. EU-NATO cooperation on promoting Mediterranean partners’ participation in the EU successor operation to SFOR would be a very concrete and extremely useful example. Furthermore, such an arrangement would better reflect the emerging division of labour between NATO and the EU, in which the latter gradually assumes first-level responsibility for security issues in its neighbourhood, as witnessed e.g. by the take-over of SFOR. This evolution springs from the long-standing demand, on the part of the US, for more burden-sharing within the Alliance, and the increasing capacity of the EU to respond to that demand, because of the ongoing development of ESDP. Whether the US, apart from welcoming increased military involvement in the Balkans, is also looking forward to an enhanced EU profile in the Mediterranean, and particularly in the Middle East, is rather a different question though.


The time is not ripe for grand schemes, unless it be with regard to the Middle East conflict. While continuing to put pressure on its partners in the Quartet for a settlement of the Middle East conflict, as the precondition for any major progress, the EU should in the meantime concentrate on the implementation of its Neighbourhood Policy, in the hope that the offer of concrete benefits will succeed in revitalizing the EMP; can take small, but equally concrete steps with regard to the security dimension of the EMP, paving the way for more substantial steps later; and can gradually enhance its relations with States in the ‘Wider Middle East’, also in preparation of a more substantial partnership in the longer term. The EU still enjoys credit – making use of that, it can prepare the ground for a major initiative in the future, hopefully in close partnership with the US, for in spite of huge differences on how to achieve them, Brussels and Washington ultimately do share the same objectives.


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[1] The situation is different for Turkey: like the other non-EU European members of NATO, it is already involved in a close dialogue on ESDP, it is automatically invited to participate in all EU operations using NATO assets and it can be invited to EU-only operations on a case-by-case basis.