Eight years after the Arab Spring, rethinking EU policies for the Southern Neighbourhood

A report on the post-Arab Spring: way forward for the MENA region was approved in early February by the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET). The text will be presented in a European Parliament plenary on 2 March and is expected to be voted on 27 March. The objective of the report is to provide an assessment of the political, social and economic situation in MENA countries eight years after the Arab Spring, and especially to identify how the European Union should respond to the legitimate aspirations of MENA societies to democracy and better living conditions.

SOLIDAR and its members were invited to provide comments during the preparation of the report. SOLIDAR in particular:

  • emphasised the need to ensure the participation of independent civil society representatives, including unregistered human rights groups and human rights defenders; this is regrettably being hindered in instances where dialogue and support pass through government-controlled agencies or focus solely on pro-government organisations;
  • recommended that the EU’s action towards the region should prioritise further policies and reforms aiming at strong universal social protection systems, sustainable socio-economic development and inclusion, with a specific focus on the most vulnerable groups; the EU should invest more resources in supporting reforms for improving access to quality essential services for all such as education and health;
  • stressed the importance of enhancing social dialogue as well as promoting legislative reforms for freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression, freedom of the press, fighting corruption and ensuring civil society access to resources and information as key ingredients for stability and for an open, dynamic and resilient society.

SOLIDAR welcomes the integration of these recommendations in the report. This useful analysis should inform adjustments to the EU’s policies and partnership with its Southern Neighbourhood partners, in order to meaningfully contribute to addressing social challenges and enabling a more sustainable and inclusive development.

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