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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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    01July 2005

    Iran, the land of roses and nightingales, remains unpredictable and enigmatic for any Western analyst-it always takes a different turn than what one would expect. When the regime of the Shah appeared to be stable, it was swiped away by a popular left-leaning revolution which replaced the monarchy with an Islamic Republic.

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    01July 2005

    Two years after George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq, the country is still far from stable. A fierce insurgency is still hampering the reconstruction of the country’s infrastructure and the development of the political process. On the other hand, success, however limited, cannot be denied: on 30 January 2005 Iraqis cast their ballots to elect a Transitional Assembly in most provinces of the country and a new government was inaugurated by the end of March 2005.

  • 17June 2005

    In the run up to the 2005 presidential elections in Iran, the EUISS held a seminar with objective of providing a comprehensive analysis of Iran: its strategic geographical position, nuclear policy and the consequences for the transatlantic dimension.

  • 14February 2005

    The newly created EUISS Task Force on the Middle East met for the first time in Paris to evaluate the situation in Iraq after the elections. This Task Force, which consists of leading European experts on the Middle East, was established with a view to monitor current events in the Arab and Persian speaking regions.

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    27January 2005

    Die gegenwärtige Situation im Irak gibt wenig Anlaß zur Hoffnung auf einen friedlichen und sicheren Verlauf der Wahlen. Die Gewalt wird auch nach den Wahlen nicht aufhören und dennoch wurde am Termin festgehalten. Das hat zum einen mit den Bestimmungen des im März 2004 unterzeichneten Übergangsgesetztes zu tun, zum anderen damit, daß die wichtigsten Machtblöcke im Irak den Wahlgang befürworten: die Amerikaner und die Schiiten.

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    01December 2004

    The discussion on European-Turkish relations is in many cases underpinned with arbitrary historical references and questionable cultural-religious argumentations. These positions are genuinely challenged by the view that Europe is not and should not become a Christian Club, but a zone of cultural and religious diversity.

  • 22November 2004

    Nach zwei Golfkriegen und dreißig Jahren Tikriter Familienherrschaft war die Modernität der irakischen Gesellschaft nur mehr in der Erinnerung vorhanden. Der Irak wurde - wie alle anderen Staaten der Region - von einer Welle der Re-Islamisierung erfaßt, die Saddam für sich zu nutzen versuchte. Seine "Pseudo-Islamisierung der Partei" war aus einer Not geboren: Er wollte lieber auf der islamischen Welle reiten, als von ihr hinweggespült werden.

  • 25October 2004

    Ce séminaire, organisé le 25 octobre 2004 à Paris, a fait le point sur le dialogue existant entre l’UE et les pays du Maghreb, et notamment la politique de voisinage de l’Union et le processus de Barcelone.

  • 01October 2004

    Turkey's long-standing relationship with the EU has from time to time been overshadowed by crises. However, there has never been a total breakdown in relations, and Turkey's bid for eventual EU membership has remained alive, if not always well. Now that the time for decisions has come, however, most political analysts expect a positive answer from the EU and the opening of formal accession negotiations some time in 2005.

  • 01October 2004

    Over the past few weeks the debate over Turkey's accession to the European Union has become more intense - and it is likely to continue well beyond the European Commission's report expected next week. In fact, although the pending decision by the European Council is 'only' about the opening of formal accession negotiations, the discussion has focused on the outcome (full EU membership) rather than the process itself.