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The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a fragmented region: in spite of its relative cultural and historical homogeneity, it has some of the lowest levels of intra-regional trade, political cooperation and legal migration in the world.

This is largely due to the fact that, since the end of the Second World War, it has experienced the full spectrum of political violence. Conventional, hybrid, and civil wars, revolutions, and terrorism have hindered political and economic development, and created fertile ground for further violence. Breaking this ‘conflict trap’ is imperative for the states of the region, as well as those actors who have a stake in it.

For the EU, the MENA is of strategic importance for three reasons:

  • it is an immediate geographic neighbour,
  • a crucial passage for goods traveling to and from Europe (including oil),
  • and it is notoriously unstable.

The region’s security and economic situation is consequently closely intertwined with that of Europe. This explains the Union’s desire to contribute to regional stability through different means such as the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the Barcelona Process and the Union for the Mediterranean.

The EUISS seeks to contribute to the EU’s overall effort in the MENA by providing in-depth analyses on a number of key issues affecting the region.


  • Download Brief
    13July 2023
    This Brief examines how EU-Iraq relations have evolved since 2003 and how they can be enhanced. The authors argue that the EU needs to revise its perception of Iraq in the light of how the country has changed over the past two decades, and explores ways for the EU to pursue a more mutually beneficial partnership with the country.
  • Download document
    29June 2023
    The need for a paradigm shift in the EU's Iran policy

    This Chaillot Paper examines the background to the protest movement in Iran, focusing on the profound crises – socio-economic, political and ecological – with which the Islamic Republic is currently grappling, as well as on the issue of gender discrimination and inequality.

  • Image of participants - © EUISS
    13April 2023

    On 13 April, the EUISS hosted and gave a lecture to the Maltese Diplomatic Academy on the impact of the war in Ukraine on the MENA. 

  • Dalia Ghanem on stage
    21March 2023

    Dr Ghanem participated in a hearing at the European Parliament on the on the state of human rights in Algeria.

  • Download Brief
    15March 2023
    In recent years both China and India have expanded their presence in the Middle East. This Brief shows however that their footprint in the Maghreb is primarily economic and remains light in comparison to that of the long-standing partner of the countries in the region: the EU.
  • Image of panel - © EUISS
    01February 2023

    On 1 February, the EUISS and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) co-organised a roundtable on Türkiye in the world. 

  • Participants to the discussion sitting around a meeting table © EUISS
    16January 2023

    On 16 January 2023, the Institute welcomed Dr Marc Lynch to debate on the question "How can Europe make sense of the post-American Middle East?"

  • Download Brief
    01December 2022
    In the wake of the Arab League summit that took place in early November in Algiers – providing an opportunity for an energy-emboldened Algeria to assert its regional influence – this Brief examines why the organisation has often been criticised for its ineffectiveness, and how the EU and the League of Arab States might improve their institutional cooperation.
  • Image featuring the title of the meeting - © Pixabay
    01December 2022

    Dalia Ghanem was invited as a speaker at the 8th annual Rome Med forum organised in collaboration with the Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) and the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

  • Portrait of Dalia Ghanem, EUISS analyst
    02May 2022

    The Institute is glad to welcome Dr. Ghanem as the new Senior Analyst in charge of the Middle East and North Africa portfolio.