EP Petras Auštrevicius: EU Moving From Development Assistance to Political-Economic Partnerships in North Africa
EUBULLETIN talked in an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Petras Auštrevicius, member of the European Parliament and a vice-president of the ALDE political faction where he also acts as a coordinator for ALDE in the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI).
EUBulletin: Can you please elaborate a little bit on the European Neighbourhood Policy vis-à-vis the North African region? Back during the Arab Spring series of revolutions, the EU admitted some mistakes concerning its policies in North Africa and pledged to approach this region in a different way. Has Brussels managed to tailor a so-to-say new-era European Neighbourhood Policy?
Petras Auštrevicius: I mean, definitely, we had so many hopes related to the Arab Spring and this appraisal and changes but not in each and every country. I mean Arab Spring turned into some real changes, into political and economic changes. Why is that? European Union policies were too much built on development assistance, not really individually designed partnership agreements.
Each and every region in Africa is different – we have to recognize it – so that’s why we have to switch more from development assistance and unconditional development assistance provisions to more political-economic partnerships. And especially a big part of our assistance and our time spent on those countries should go into the administrative capacity-building, kind of statehood and good governance policy-building. As long as those countries are not well governed, we will always be repeating some mistakes and crisis will come after crisis.
EUBulletin: Looking at these five African countries on EU’s southern flank, which ones would be the sort of high-achievers and, on the contrary, where do you think the EU policy, has failed to achieve its objectives? In the second case, I am referring here in particular to Libya.
Petras Auštrevicius: Well, I mean, Libya is not probably the case of a happy country because it is a fragmented country that was itself built on a bit artificial grounds. But Tunisia, I think, we are most advanced with Tunisia, we help Tunisia, we receive more visits, for example, from Tunisian parliament and Tunisian officials. Of course, Algeria has certain stability in this regards, I mean we see a continuation of the policy that has its own local speciality but, for example, with Egypt we have to be indeed well involved to help Egypt to reach a level of at least political stability and certain socio-economic development.
Libya is more about cooperation on migration issues, illegal trafficking because the migration routes passing through Libya is a major challenge. And, well, I think Morocco is on a fine side, generally speaking, although the Western Sahara issue somehow keeps us every time alert. But with Morocco, generally speaking, we have more stable partnership and we know our partners there very well.
EUBulletin: What means and tools are now high on Brussels’ agenda aimed at further stabilizing these North African countries and forging a closer and mutually beneficial relationship with the EU?
Petras Auštrevicius: I think we will see a much more comprehensive cooperation with Tunisia and I also expect new partnership agreements designed for Egypt and I believe we will have special programs extended to Libya especially on keeping sovereignty and rule of law.