EU-Algeria: Strengthened relations can bring stability and security
There are many opportunities for closer cooperation between the EU and Algeria, but this will only be possible if all stakeholders are involved, writes Tokia Saïfi.
With conflicts and crises in the Mediterranean, the European Union and Algeria face the same challenges, whether in terms of migration policy or management of terrorist risks. As we celebrate 10 years of the association agreement that would pave the way for years of successful collaboration between the two regions, it is more than ever necessary to continue our efforts to find solutions to these problems.
Moreover, the ongoing review of the European neighbourhood policy (ENP) and the negotiations for the adoption of an action plan with Algeria offer a real opportunity to not only consolidate our relations, but also to intensify them.
The Mediterranean region has undergone major changes in recent years. A fresh boost to Euro-Mediterranean relations, both bilaterally and multilaterally, is urgently needed. Algeria is one of the key players in the region and we must enhance our partnership with the country to tackle the current challenges.
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In the security sphere, the situation in the Mediterranean is worrying. The EU should reaffirm its support for Algeria, which plays a key role in discussions aimed at the resolution of the Libyan crisis and the Malian conflict.
These conflicts are a source of instability and are reflected in particular by an increase in terrorist threats. By strengthening our relations with Algeria, a major military power in North Africa, we can seek lasting political solutions to bring stability and security.
The EU and Algeria must also continue their cooperation in the energy sector. EU member states suffer from energy dependence and the launch of the EU-Algeria high-level energy dialogue reflects a real willingness to strengthen our partnership in this area.
Finally, as the major trading partner of Algeria, the EU has a particular responsibility; the future action plan must intensify our trade and economic relations in a spirit of reciprocity and mutual benefit.
Indeed, as globalisation is in full swing, the Maghreb must remain involved in the links that are forged between the largest trading powers. I am convinced that the richest trade is with our immediate neighbours and that we must make the Mediterranean a space of prosperity and sharing, as it was in the past.
For this, we should particularly emphasise the importance of contact between business communities on both sides of the Mediterranean. The establishment of bilateral structures for our SMEs could be a springboard for their exports and investments. The Algerian government's desire to diversify its economy is also an opportunity that must be seized; it will allow intensification of trade and economic exchanges and job creation.
The relaunch of our economic exchanges and trade must start with economic players and civil society in general. An increase in exchanges between entrepreneurs, professional organisations and training organisations will promote best practice and improve understanding of each side's challenges and expectations.
To deal not only with these three specific challenges, but also with all current Mediterranean topics (migration, cultural exchange, education programmes, etc.), we must develop political dialogue and regular consultations with all those concerned.
As a member of the European Parliament, I have the opportunity to be in regular contact with Algerian parliamentarians and economic stakeholders. Our discussions focus on concrete projects and how we can further develop our exchanges. Whatever the sector, regardless of company size, there are many opportunities, provided that stakeholders are linked.
The desire to establish a political dialogue with each country must remain at the heart of the review of the European neighbourhood policy, as well as the objective of creating an area of peace, stability and prosperity in the Mediterranean.
In parallel, the ENP action plans allow us to increase cooperation between the EU and partner countries. The future EU-Algeria action plan is promising and will provide solutions to shared challenges.
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