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Research Report

Arab Awakening:: Are the US and EU Missing the Challenge?

Danya Greenfield
Rosa Balfour
Copyright Date: Jun. 1, 2012
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 36
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    Evaluating the US and EU response to the Arab awakening, it is clear there is a gap between what was pledged and what has been accomplished when looking at economic incentives, material support, and technical assistance. Recognizing that many of these initiatives may take time to develop, launch, and implement, this report seeks to provide a benchmark that can be used on an annual basis to measure and track the degree to which the United States and the EU have reached their stated goals and advanced their respective policy objectives in the Middle East and North Africa region.

    On the...

  2. (pp. 3-14)

    Obama’s May 2011 speech provided a long-awaited response from the White House regarding the overthrow of governments in Egypt and Tunisia and the ongoing struggle in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Policymakers and observers have deciphered US policy from key points from the speech and other statements:

    It will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy…through free and fair elections; a vibrant civil society; accountable and effective democratic institutions; and responsible regional leadership…

    We think it’s important to focus on trade, not just aid; and investment, not just assistance....

  3. (pp. 15-22)

    In some ways, the response of the EU is not dissimilar to the United States, in terms of advancing support for greater economic integration, a focus on civil society, and democratic institution-building. Yet, there are also some important distinctions. The EU operates in a fundamentally different geographical context with the southern Mediterranean countries at its doorstep, and the economic and migratory pressures from North Africa are felt in Europe in a way unparalleled in the United States.

    The framework for the EU’s response to changes in North Africa and the Middle East comes from policies and tools that evolved since...

  4. (pp. 23-26)

    In addition to the bilateral and multilateral initiatives that the United States and the EU are pursuing, the other key element of their response is what takes place under the auspices of the Deauville Partnership, which was launched at the May 2011 G8 Summit in Deauville, France. The Partnership was envisioned as a global initiative to support any country in the region striving toward democratic transition.

    The inaugural announcement states:

    “The Partnership is based on two pillars: a political process to support the democratic transition and foster governance reforms, notably the fight against corruption and the strengthening of the institutions...

  5. (pp. 27-28)

    The periodic Deauville Partnership meetings certainly provide an opportunity for coordination among the United States and the EU, and the establishment of Bernadino Leon’s position as special representative and Ambassador William Taylor’s Office of the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transition provides another point of contact. Beyond these official gatherings, Ambassador Taylor has initiated more informal meetings among a core group of five to eight lead principles from key European countries, which has also deepened lines of communication. However, this coordination does not appear to have reached the level of strategic planning and remains primarily a vehicle for information-sharing and...

  6. (pp. 29-30)

    In sum, the response of the United States and the EU has not risen to the challenge in responding to the enormity of problems facing the Arab countries in transition on the political, security, and economic fronts. Both are faced with fiscal constraints and waning influence in the region, and thus the need for the United States and the EU to cooperate is compelling to amplify potential impact. Some progress has been made through the Deauville Partnership and other mechanisms that have just been put in place. In many cases, though, it is too soon to tell if specific multilateral...