EU’s Southern Neighbourhood Policy: The Maghreb and the European Bid for Africa

Written by | Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

„Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia are geographically strategic countries for Europe, and continuing to work closely with them is key,“ writes Adriana Maldonado López, member of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the Maghreb Countries (DMAG). In a commentary recently published in The Parliament Magazine, she discusses the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood Policy that is key for strengthening and maintaining relations between the bloc and Maghreb countries. „This type of policy is essential for providing these countries with stability in the economic, social, health, labour and security sectors, to name but a few,“ she writes.
In the various Delegations of the European Parliament, such as the Maghreb Delegation, we work to promote the fundamental and democratic values of the EU in other regions, with the aim of increasing their prosperity and emphasising the three pillars that we consider fundamental: economic, social and the role of women. Collaboration initiatives in sectors such as energy are particularly noteworthy and are undoubtedly aligned with the European Commission’s Green Deal priorities. According to data from the EU Neighbours programme, the citizens of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia consider their country as having positive relations with the European Union.
In the case of Algeria, 45% of those surveyed say that there is a good framework for cooperation between the EU and their country, particularly in the area of trade and health, but they would like to see greater levels of aid. Tunisians have a very positive image of the EU and consider the tourism sector, economic development and trade as strategic sectors for this collaboration. The Electoral Observation Mission that was carried out in 2019 for the Presidential elections (with a satisfactory evaluation report) is a symbol of the interest of European institutions in this country. Morocco rates highest in terms of its perception of relations with the EU, with 71% of citizens considering the bloc’s influence on their country’s development as positive. So much so, in fact, that the percentage rises to 76% when asked if the EU is a key partner with whom they share certain common values.
It is also worth mentioning the special assistance that EU institutions have provided to these countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. This aims to support the health sector and reduce the negative socioeconomic consequences that the pandemic may have caused in different areas such as education, industry, aid to SMEs and social protection, among others. For example, the EU pledged €450m to Morocco in this regard. In Tunisia, several programmes have been put in place, one of which aims to provide greater assistance to migrants with €9.3m and another giving €5m to enable mobility arrangements for young professionals and seasonal workers. These two social groups are considered the most likely to be affected by the negative consequences of the pandemic.

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