The EU must take a proactive role in the Southern Neighbourhood, argues Mounir Satouri.
The Southern Neighbourhood faces many challenges. The EU must participate in the socioeconomic development of the region, and act strongly to protect human rights in these neighbouring countries. It is also crucial, for the EU Green Deal to be effective, to help these countries achieve sustainable policies in sectors such as energy transition and agriculture. As Standing Rapporteur for Egypt, I am particularly concerned over the effectiveness of our action in improving the situation for Egyptian citizens. It is of the utmost importance that the EU respects the human rights aspects of its engagement with Egypt, which has 60,000 political prisoners. From my point of view, it is also essential that the EU promotes appropriate wealth redistribution. In recent years, cuts to Egyptian public spending have contributed to a marked increase in poverty in Egypt.
Between 2015 and 2018, the proportion of the population living below the poverty line jumped from 26 to 32 percent. I strongly believe in the potential of the EU’s renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood, as long as the EU and its Member States take a stronger and clearer stance on democracy, the rule of law and wealth redistribution, and participate more actively in the region’s green transition.
The Southern Neighbourhood partnership is moving in the right direction, argues Evin Incir.
I welcome the fact that the EU is now showing enhanced determination to strengthen its partnership with its Southern Neighbourhood. The new €79.5bn NDICI-Global Europe instrument, and the European Fund for Sustainable Development are two powerful tools that will improve the EU’s southern partnerships. This comes at a time when we need to recognise that the Mediterranean region constitutes an area of opportunities and challenges. My hope is that the EU, through these new instruments, steps up its support to the countries of the region, to ensure that human rights and the rule of law is protected. In particular, the situation of vulnerable asylum seekers, including women and children, needs to be addressed.
This situation is an opportunity for the EU to show the world that cooperation through dialogue is the best way forward. By establishing forums of discussion and mutual commitments to development in the region the EU can facilitate progress and ensure continuous stability.