A leading analyst in the region told EURACTIV that the EU’s role and political influence in North Africa is hampered by economic and security policy priorities that are overwhelmed by the EU’s desire to control the flow of migrants.
Despite the political fragility in most parts of North Africa, especially in the countries whose governments were overthrown during the Arab Spring ten years ago, the EU’s policy engagement with the region is often through the Prism Continent that controls the flow of immigrants from Africa.
“When efforts to support regional trade encounter things like the immigration agenda, tensions arise. The EU takes a tougher stance on preventing and deterring immigration, and pays less attention to other ostensible EU priorities, such as Promote movement and trade in free Africa,” said Andrew Lebovich, a policy researcher at the European Council on Foreign Relations, in an interview with EURACTIV.
The EU has signed joint agreements to manage trade and political relations with Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria. Although Algeria is keen to rewrite the terms of the agreement with Brussels, negotiations with Tunisia to modify the agreement have been shelved since 2019.
In the region, political and economic relations with Morocco are the EU’s most important and most stable relations in the region, but tensions still exist, especially on the disputed Western Sahara territorial issue, which Lebovich described as “omnipresent” problem”.
The recent diplomatic dispute between Morocco and Spain has highlighted this point. The Rabat government temporarily relaxed border controls in response to Spain’s hospitalization for the leader of the Polisario Front of the Western Sahara Independence Movement, Brahim Gali. Suffering from new coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19): COVID-19: COVID-19.
However, despite the pressure from Rabat, the EU continues to support the agreement on Western Sahara promoted by the United Nations.
“Recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara under the Trump administration will undoubtedly give the government more courage to push the EU stronger, but we see that the EU has not actively responded to this pressure and is willing to fight back. They are unwilling to simply succumb to Morocco’s This push,” Lebovich said.
Similarly, Europe’s critical security and military support missions in North Africa have had mixed results. The French-led Operation Crescent Dune is a 5,100-man army deployed across the Sahel in the past eight years to combat jihadist and separatist attacks, but there is little sign that the number of terrorist attacks in the region has increased . Depraved.
“The challenge is that the security situation has not improved in recent years. We have seen the spread of jihadist groups in Niger and Bucana Faso. It is clear that this is still happening despite the presence of the French,” Lebovich told EURACTIV .
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that in the next few months, joint military operations will gradually replace those who have killed 55 French soldiers and have gradually lost popularity among the citizens and governments of the Sahel. Balkans. European countries.
France and some European countries are negotiating on how to replace the Balkans with the transformed Taquba operation, which will bring together troops from other European countries, including Sweden, Italy, Estonia and the Czech Republic.
“Of course, the French want Europe to play a more active role in combat operations, but it is currently difficult to see how this commitment will be sustainable and replace the French mission,” Lebovich said.
The delivery of the European Covid-19 vaccine to the region has been slow, and the vaccines of the China National Pharmaceutical Group and Russian satellites have been distributed in large numbers to Morocco, Egypt, and Algeria, which also put the European Union on the defensive in the region.
“The fact that mobilizing a vaccine campaign in the region is so difficult, has led to an extremely serious situation. This should be a priority for the international community,” Lebovich told EURACTIV.
“The EU and the United States are now making more efforts to solve this problem, but still less than it should be,” he added.