Promoting democracy and human rights in North African states: which role for the European Union?
Revolts and political changes occurred in North African States in the general context of the so-called “Arab spring” since the end of 2010 constitutes an opportunity to start a rethinking about EU democracy promotion activities carried out in North African States so far. Official documents concerning EU relations with its Southern Mediterranean partners are full of references to “democracy”, “human rights” and the “rule of law” as core values to be supported in the framework of cooperation with North African States. But what is the concrete meaning of this EU commitment? And how declared objectives have been translated into coherent sub-strategies? The aim of this thesis is the one of exposing the EU democracy and human rights policy towards North African States to an empirical enquiry which looks at concrete projects implemented in Morocco, Egypt, Lybia, Tunisia and Algeria under two main instruments: the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). The combined use of qualitative and quantitative indicators to assess the nature of democracy and human rights-related projects shows that EU patterns of action towards North African states have been chiefly characterized by a sort of “economic first” approach under the ENP and by a rather “gradualist” tendency under the EIDHR.