Report : « the Eu global strategy on foreign and security and the Mediterranean »


Professor Erwan Lannon

The conference presented by Erwan Lannon talked about the new EU strategy introduced in June by Frédérica Moggerini. It asks the question whether this, is it really going to change something in the Mediterranean region. The presentation is divided in three parts. The first one will speak about the context and the evolution of CSFP from Maastricht to Lisbon, to end up with the strategy right after the Arab uprising. The second part will focus on a text analysis of the new European global strategy, and finally, the third part will draw out some conclusions and emphasize on the importance of including the « neighbors of the neighbors » in the new EU global strategy on foreign and security.


  1. Contexte


The first joint action in the Middle East, with actions on the ground, occurred in 1994 in the Palestinian election. A few years later in 1999, the European Union created the first board of high representatives, with Mister Solana. It is during that period of time that we can observe the development of a military dimension (capacity and institutions). In 2003, the European strategy was quite different from what we are about to analyse in the second part of the presentation. Hence, it was more a joint threat assessment. In 2004 was launched the European neighborhood policy (but it has been truly implemented in 2007) followed by an implementation report in 2008. Finally, the Lisbon treaty reinforces the security and defense dimension. For instance, it is thanks to that treaty that France could activate a specific clause (42,7) after the terrorist attacks of November 2015. It also encloses a solidarity clause.


2011 marked the beginning of the Arab uprisings as well as the mid-term review of the ENP. They published their first impressions on the Arab spring. The important point at that time was to support democracy. Nowadays, this priority has changed and grants more importance to European priorities and the need of being flexible to protect its interests.


  1. THE 2016 EUGS and the Mediterranean


Frederica Moggherini has issued a new paper in 2016 establishing the new EU priorities on what concerns the EU global strategy on foreign and security. Those ones are double: first of all, ensure the security of the European Union; second of all strenghten security and resilience of the neighbouring countries. The second point is an innovation and mark a departure from the previous European strategies. The EU identified an axe of crisis, which threats its vital interests. It is therefore switching to a more pragmatic strategy than it used to be during the edge of the Arab uprising. Once the so called Arab winter occurred, marked by all the crisis that we now know (in Lybia, Syria, Iraq…), the EU wants more flexibility and room to negotiate; even with partners which are not fully democratic (instead of strict conditions that were promoted before). The 2016 documents switches from a “more for more strategy” for a more flexible one. They will be less picky about what concerns human rights and be more flexible with « stable » countries which are not especially (fully/) democratic (for instance Turkey or Egypt). It is also interesting to notice that if the idea of « protection of human rights » is presented in the paper, it is not the first priority anymore as it arrives at the end.

The second interesting point concerning the 2016 EU global strategy is the coherence between the EU and the member states. The European Union is more and more referring to the member states. Before they wanted to be more independent as an international actor (became a legal actor). Now, there is a shift to increasingly rely on a member state. The main reason is due to a lack of financial means.


The EU, 2016 also has a specific section for a « peaceful and prosperous Mediterranean, MENA ». We can notice that fighting against terrorism is the priority, along with challenges such as demography and climate change. Those elements are of the um post importance, especially if we think about the origins of migrants that are concerned by the deal negotiated between the EU and Turkey.


The EU also wants to enhance cooperation with regional and sub regional institutions (ex: Morocco wants to join the African Union), especially African ones. It is due to security reasons, and the EU wants Africa to play a role in it. For what concerns the Arab League: restart activities after the Arab spring, but this initiative has now faded away because only Tunisia can be considered as successful. To sum up, the EU wants to have a more flexible approach to help bridging division and to support regional players in delivering concrete results.


The EU has five line of action:


  • Maghreb and the Middle East: the EU wants to support cooperation, including through the Union for the Mediterranean. Against classic priorities are depicted in the text followed by shy references to regional conflict. It is important to note that it remains rhetoric, they have to mention those conflicts, but they are not « naive » anymore. The reason why the EU does not try to be an international player on the level of conflicts is that member states are divided (ex: Ukraine, no one single European represents went to Minsk, but several heads of states did).
  • Sectoral cooperation with Turkey. The deal concerning migrants is, according to Erwan Lannon, a sham from a legal point of view. It is based on the idea that Turkey is a safe country, but it is not. Lannon denounces the fact that line have been crossed in Lybia and, more recently, in Turkey.
  • The Gulf and the GCC. There is nothing new apart for a remark on Iran. This is interesting in the light of the US election; especially for what concerns the future of the nuclear deal. This remark is also important regarding the opposition between Saudi-Arabia and Iran.
  • The EU recognizes the existence of interconnections between sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa (cfr: neighbours of the neighbours). The EU wants to take those connections into account.
  • Centering the approach on Africa. Now, they speak about peace and development. It is important for the EU for what concern economic and trade issues, but also on conflict resolution. They also insist on the development of the security-development nexus.
  1. challenges linked to the implementation of the global strategy and conclusion


To conclude, we can say that the new EU global strategy on foreign and security and the Mediterranean is becoming more pragmatic than it used to be before. They are less centered on values such as democracy and the respect of human rights in the conduct of their foreign and security policies. Lannon says that the EU need to regain credibility in the Middle East, because for now the most consistent behavior is President Poutine’s one.


They are however certain barriers that might slow down the implementation of this new EU strategy. First of all what about the financial means to reform the EU and global security strategy? Secondly, if the EU wants a more flexible approach on paper, they need to take into account the strong administrative dynamics that could go against this new flexibility. Finally, now the focus is more on the MENA region than on the Mediterranean one, because the latter is more a sub-region that fragmented larger dynamics.




What does really mean the world ‘resilience’? How could Europe play a bigger role in the region? What will be the role of the EU delegation? Erwan Lannon says that the EU does not have a clear approach; so what do we need to do so?


Answer: the word resilience is used as an excuse to justify the shift from the reinforces conditions (respect of democratic values, human rights… in the conduct of EU foreign policy). But then their might be a problem of double standards: if the European Union becomes too flexible, it risks to lose credibility. It is hard to adopt a consistent policy with regards to such a region. For him, a good starting point would be the respect of basic principles of international law. For the rest you can be a bit more flexible.


For what concerns common security policy, how come did it failed with the terrorist attacks?


If we go back to history, the 1980s represent the beginning of the EU diplomacy. 1999 represented a turning point with the treaty of Amsterdam. Ten years later, the Lisbon treaty showed the embryo of a collective security by having two classes: the one concerning mutual defense; and the one concerning solidarity with a direct reference to terrorist attacks). Holland activated the first one because declared state of war. Regarding the failure in preventing the attacks, they are many reasons such