Friday, 31 August 2012

Advocacy week on EU-Arabic relations in Brussels

A “Week of advocacy on policies and issues of cooperation and partnership between the European Union and Arab countries”, arranged by the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) in cooperation with Eurostep and CNCD-11.11.11, will engage civil society organizations from both regions. The meetings between 17 to 21 September in Brussels are to see exchanges also between Arab representatives and European policy makers on issues of common concern. It will serve as an opportunity to deepen the discussions on the outlined issues, clarify the demands and propositions from civil society groups, and elaborate on ways of cooperation and possible collective campaigning on priority policy areas. It will also be an opportunity to articulate these demands to policy makers at the European Union level, including in the European Parliament and European Commission, remarked the ANND in a press release.

The Arab region has been witnessing a period of change and quest for new societal relations between the citizen and the state, based on respect of fundamental freedoms, rights, dignity, and rule of law. Along the multiplicity of factors including political repressions, corruption, and lack of accountability and legitimacy of Arab regimes, the peoples’ uprisings and revolutions in multiple Arab countries have reflected a failure of social and economic policies, according to the Network. Indeed, citizens are calling for a new development paradigm, which re-enforces the right to development and economic and social rights and justice. Accordingly, the democratic process and practice in the region necessitates revising the approach to the economic and social policies and policy making, aligned with reforms of political systems and enhancing the role of civil society, observed the ANND.

These changes in the Arab countries necessitate a re-thinking of priorities and policy approaches in the cooperation and partnerships with the European Union, on various fronts whether political, economic, social, and cultural. One of the main challenges to be addressed is seeking coherence among the various levels of cooperation between the EU and Arab countries, specifically among the development cooperation and the economic partnership, including the trade and investment relations. Furthermore, the region witnesses have swept across the whole Arab region, including the Maghreb, Mashreq, and Gulf countries, thus requiring a holistic approach in the revision of the relation between the EU and the various Arab countries.

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