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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 gas),
  • and it has been historically 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.


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    22February 2011

    The Jasmine revolution in Tunisia and the popular uprising in Egypt have opened the way for these Arab countries to initiate their transitions to democracy. The burning question, however, is what sort of democracy will they be? The fear of power falling into the hands of political Islamists has been a recurrent theme of global commentary on these momentous events. Yet some experts have argued that there is the potential for a different, more positive outcome – pointing in particular to Turkey’s experience.

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    16February 2011

    It is easy to see why EU foreign policy comes down to its lowest common denominator when disagreements arise, or why in fact it takes longer to react than any of its constituents. Negotiations and bargaining are the necessary prelude to any agreement, and can sometimes be long and cumbersome.

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    15February 2011

    A major change is sweeping through the Arab world, moving from country to country. While national differences remain vast, the same slogans and demands are being heard everywhere: more freedom, more democracy and more individual rights for the citizens. Without knowing where it will end and what the Arab world will look like in the future, it is already time to ask what it means for Europe, and to Europe’s relations with the region.

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    15February 2011

    At present, there is an explosive lack of consensus within the EU about dealing with irregular migration from North Africa and the Middle East. With southern member states like Italy already experiencing increased irregular immigration, there has been a predictable sharpening of tone in many capitals. The imperative of restrictive immigration control has risen swiftly up the European agenda. At the same time, however, there has been a surprising openness toward liberalising EU migration policy.

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    10February 2011

    Les événements qui viennent de se produire en Tunisie, puis en Égypte, avec leurs spécificités, font apparaître, de manière indubitable, un phénomène lourd de conséquences : la sous-estimation de l’autonomie du peuple.

    Durant des décennies, on a peu à peu fait disparaître une réflexion sérieuse sur la réalité de ce qu’étaient les peuples du monde arabe en leur substituant une vision caricaturale et réductrice.

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    09February 2011

    La « Révolution du jasmin » en Tunisie, les événements en cours en Égypte et les manifestations prévues ici et là dans plusieurs pays arabes semblent indiquer qu’une nouvelle réalité est en train de se dessiner, dans ce qui semblait à tort comme l’exception démocratique dans le monde.

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    07February 2011

    Much has been said about the EU’s response to the uprisings in North Africa. Much has been and will continue to be said on how the EU should radically change its approach to this region. But beyond the criticism, little has been said about how the new foreign policy structures set up by the Lisbon Treaty have met this challenging task.

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    07February 2011

    Qui avait prévu un tel chambardement? Qui osait espérer, il y a à peine trois mois, que le peuple tunisien était capable de déboulonner le régime honni, dont on vantait, en Europe et ailleurs, la stabilité et la solidité ? Même ceux, qui ne sont pourtant pas néophytes en matière de politique arabe, ont été pris au dépourvu, ébahis par la tournure des événements, étonnés par la rapidité de la victoire du peuple tunisien, et sidérés par la maturité dont il a fait preuve.

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    24January 2011

    The crisis in Tunisia is at the end of its heroic phase: the corrupt presidency has been overthrown by a revolutionary popular uprising and the nihilistic violence of its paramilitary base in the presidential guard and the police has been countered by the intervention of the Tunisian army.  

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    18January 2011

    The recent popular uprising in Tunisia has questioned the EU's policy of supporting the status quo in the South Mediterranean. Europe should back the democratic transition in the country, while a new impetus should be given to the Union's neighbourhood policy.



  • 01November 2007

    If the Lisbon Treaty is ratified it will put foreign and security policy back at the heart of the EU debate. In that debate institutional implications such as the new post of 'EU foreign minister' will likely feature prominently,but the future scope and content of EU foreign and security policy will surely dominate.

  • 31July 2007

    The landslide victory of Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party marks a unique moment in Turkish history: a ruling party has hardly ever been re-elected. This win gives Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his team a huge popular mandate to continue. The key reasons behind the AKP’s victory are analysed here and help form my forecasts of possible scenarios and policy options for the mid-term.

  • 21July 2007

    Die Krise der Türkei ist auch ein normales Symptom jener Transformation, die alle EU-Kandidaten durchmachen.

  • 13June 2007

    The ongoing crisis in Turkey must be seen against the background of a bifurcated society, a weak political system, an ongoing insurgency in Eastern Anatolia and a military-dominated power elite steeped in a state ideology called Kemalism. This note limits itself to an analysis of this ideology as it relates to the role of the Armed Forces in Turkish politics.

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    01June 2007

    The ongoing crisis in Turkey must be seen against the background of a bifurcated society, a weak political system, a low-level insurgency in Eastern Anatolia and a military-dominated power elite steeped in a state ideology known as Kemalism. But the military could only muster public support once ‘Euro-fatigue’ increased in Turkey and when the fears of the secular middle class became strong enough to drive them out into the streets to protest.

  • 01April 2007

    When the US and Iran sat face to face in Baghdad last March, this did not signify the start of bilateral negotiations. In a sense, it was a direct continuation of several meetings held by states neighbouring Iraq that commenced immediately after the US intervention in Iraq four years ago. These meetings have always functioned as a consultation mechanism and have also been good for confidence-building.

  • 30March 2007

    Der Iran wird als aufstrebende Regionalmacht beschrieben. Doch an seiner strategischen Isolation hat sich nichts geändert. Im Gegenteil, sie wurde über das letzte Jahr noch verschärft.

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    19January 2007

    America is failing in Iraq. It has disintegrated into a civil war and the domestic situation in the country is constantly deteriorating. The American public has turned against the war and Bush's popularity has declined sharply. Iraq proved a major factor in the Congressional elections on 7 November 2006, which returned a Democratic majority in both Houses.

  • 27November 2006

    L'intégration régionale au Maghreb, comme solution possible à l'impasse. La situation dans les pays du Maghreb ne s'est pas améliorée visiblement au cours des dernières années. Le rapport des Nations unies sur le développement humain de 2006 place les trois pays du Maghreb central au niveau de développement moyen, aux postes 87 pour la Tunisie, 102 pour l'Algérie, et 123 pour le Maroc, soit à des niveaux inférieurs à ceux de la Chine, du Pérou et de l'Ukraine, par exemple. Tous ces pays ont des populations très jeunes, des carences sérieuses au niveau de la santé et de l'éducation et, dans une vaste mesure, sont en marge des processus de la mondialisation.

  • 03November 2006

    In the winter of 2002-03, supporters of regime change in Iraq were upbeat in their vision of the post-invasion phase of the war. Yet a sober assessment of the difficulties ahead would have helped to avoid many of the mistakes that have proved to be so costly in terms of American lives and resources - not to mention the suffering of Iraqis.