Arab revolutions have shown in the past years that the followed economic models that was backed by the European Union has failed to achieve the promised development goals, and resulted in a clear reduction in citizens’ access to economic and social rights. In spite of the endorsement of the European Union on that, it still adopts policies in the course of the Deauville partnership, which goes in line with international financial institutions, which are still promoting more liberalization of trade and finance, privatization and attracting foreign direct investment, as well as austerity in spending to meet the State budget deficit.
The EU interventions in the Arab region are among the most important external influences on public policy in the Arab world, especially on policies affecting social justice, such as economic policies of agriculture, commerce, industry and employment policies. European relations is remaining in the Arab region, whether direct, bilateral relations between European countries and Arab countries, or the neighborly relationship between the European Union as a whole and an Arab country, or European investments and relationships in politics and business, the European Union remains the most important partner for Arab States. Hence, the European Union handles several responsibilities. First their economic and trade policies and relations with the Arab world should not cause destruction of local industries as well as failing the hope of Arab peoples in industrialization and growth of their economies that are remaining fragile. The hopes of the Arab peoples also can be seen that the European Union shall play a role in supporting development of the region, without deviation or political interventions and involving conditionality in economic relations. Finally, we hope that European interventions shall be characterized by honesty and clarity: if they are for the sake of Arab states, thus policies should be as well in their favor. And if the European Union’s interventions are driven by economic interests of European countries, they should not claim they are interfering for the Arab sake.
Therefore, the most important thing to pay attention to is the lack of consistency of the European interventions, where there is a clash of European policies and targets. The most important conflict witnessed in European policies, is actually the inconsistency between the EU targets in enforcement of human rights, and between the EU’s goal in spreading respect for the right-wing-market policies. It is possible that this inconsistency stems from an important conflict between interests of European Union countries, and interests of southern Mediterranean countries, i.e. countries in the Arab world. Thus, the first and most importantly recommendation is that the European Union shall re-examine their policies, taking into consideration clarity of objectives, and consistency.
Below are the most important European policies and the most important recommendations that the European Union shall be taken into account, in order to play a positive role in achieving social justice in the southern Mediterranean countries, or at the very least, do not be one of the perpetrators of spreading social injustice.
European Neighborhood Policy
The EU should ensure a minimum level of transparency in those banks’, where is the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is characterized with lack of transparency compared to banks and other international institutions that have a similar role.
Profound and comprehensive free trade agreements:
Despite these cautions, the EU assesses the impact of sustainability in a rapid manner, using quantitative and fragmented standards for measuring and evaluating the impact without extensive consultation with stakeholders. In order to speed up implementation of the European business agenda, the European Union uses financial institutions and aids to put pressure on governments to agree on the offered package of aid and trade agreements, undermining their ability to negotiate and maintain national economic priorities. The danger of current negotiations on profound and comprehensive free trade that they go beyond reducing tariffs, which are included in previous agreements, to the direction to include in the terms of the agreement rules on liberalization of trade in services, over-protection of investment and the European investor in Arab countries in particular, as well as liberalization of government purchases. Liberalization of public purchase is considered as a competition for the national production in a vital sector in the Arab countries. Protection of foreign investors in accordance with the customary conditions, would undermine the political space available to governments to direct investments to serve the interests of the national productive sectors, therefore, negotiations deal with areas in the organization of the economic system and directing economic policies, which in this form directly affect the state’s ability to choose its policies, even threats flexibility of decision-makers in Arab countries to change their economic policies as a response to the people’s demands.
First, we call on the EU to suspend negotiations on the profound and comprehensive free trade agreements, and so end the study of the impact of previous agreements that they entered bilaterally with Arab countries on development and evaluation of its role, positively and negatively, on the national economies.
Second, we call on the EU to delete articles related to investor protection, especially those that lead resolution of disputes to international arbitration, in response to the initiative of several countries, which began to get rid of this system, which is unjust for states in general, including the European countries and developing countries in particular.
Finally, we hope the EU respects transitional periods experienced by Arab countries, and in which we hope that transitional governments give up the legacy of corruption and impoverishment, and adopt different policies that respect rights of citizens, enhance the local economy, and fighting poverty, marginalization, unemployment and poor distribution of wealth. Hence, we demand that the EU postpone negotiations on profound and comprehensive free trade agreements, so that policies and options at the local level can be crystallized first, so as not to handcuff Arab governments with the same failed policies that caused the outbreak of revolutions.
Civil society and private sector partnership:
European banks projects focus their investments on partnership between the public and private sectors with what these projects represents of future debt on public budgets of states, and what it shall include corruption of contracts in developing countries experiencing high rates of corruption. Finally, the European Commission began working with financial institutions to promote integration between development aid and private investment mechanisms, and this is because of the lack of available funding for development projects. Yet, results on the development level may be extremely negative, with shrinking of public ownership of the development process, and development options become at the disposal of the investment and the private sector, the sectors that is not concerned with developmental objectives, and will not put it on its list of priorities.
 ECESR. Memo on the Coal to Gas Switch in Egypt and EBRD Involvement. Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights. 9 May 2014, http://is.gd/n7AfQW
 CEE Bank watch. Guest Post: EBRD Justification for Supporting Coal in Egypt’s Cement Industry is Negligent. 15 May 2014. http://is.gd/fqVU5M
 Aid Transparency index. European bank for Reconstruction and Development. Publish What You Fund. http://is.gd/4TCw4A
 Glopolis. European Investment Bank: Investment in Development? 14 July 2011. http://is.gd/AbwXSg
 EEAS. Egypt Country Strategy Paper: 2007-2013. 4 January 2007. Pp. 9-10 http://is.gd/4AcuTU HYPERLINK “http://is.gd/4AcuTU”