Members of the House of Lords have urged the Government and EU to keep momentum behind the process of upgrading the EU’s relations with countries in the southern Mediterranean.
The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence & Development Policy scrutinised proposals from the European Commission and High Representative about the partnership between the EU and the its Southern Mediterranean neighbours. The Committee want the UK Government to play a key role in the renewal of the EU’s approach and push for immediate action in this area.
The Committee feel that democracy and human rights must be at the heart of the UK and EU approach, and was concerned that this had been neglected in the past. The EU must learn from its experiences with authoritarian and abusive regimes in the region, they said.
Commenting, Lord Teverson, chairman of the Sub-Committee, said:
“The Arab Spring has made two things remarkably clear as far as Europe is concerned. Firstly, the EU must continue to respond positively and rapidly to this new mood across North Africa.
“Secondly, it must admit that its involvement on the opposite side of the Mediterranean in the past was, frankly, futile. Whether it was promoting free markets, the rule of law or all the sort of freedoms that the EU tries to promote – it was a failure.
“So we warmly welcome this timely paper from Baroness Ashton and Commissioner Füle demanding a fundamental and rapid change to the way Europe deals with the nations of North Africa. We especially like his core theme of Europe offering more to those individual nations that respect the sort of principles that lead to good government.
“But there is a catch. Having broken free from the bureaucratic drag of complex Brussels decision-making, it now looks like this initiative risks ploughing into the North African sands, while a wider European Neighbourhood Policy is debated. This must not happen. It is essential to maintain this rare momentum”
Letter to the Europe Minister, David Lidington MP, on the Southern Mediterranean on 11 May 2011 ( PDF 45 KB)