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Commissioner says EU must not be afraid to engage with new leaders emerging from democratic transition

The European Union must engage with the new leaderships emerging from the transitions in the Arab world and should not be afraid of the outcome of democratic elections, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle said in a speech in Munich today.
 
Admitting that the EU’s policy in the region had not always been right in the past, the Commissioner said there could be no return to complacency towards authoritarian regimes, insisting: “The European Union stands behind the forces of change and modernisation.”
 
“We must engage with the new leaderships,” he said. “We should not be afraid of the outcome of democratic elections. On the contrary, the successful electoral process in Tunisia and Morocco (leading to new governments) and Egypt (where full transition to civilian rule has yet to take place) gives hope for a transition to fully representative governments. We have to judge our partners on the basis of facts and the respect of their international commitments.”
 
Štefan Füle said the EU’s engagement would need to be sustained over many years. “Successful transitions are not measured by the first rounds of democratic elections but by the second, third and fourth rounds.”
 
And he insisted on the need to collaborate with grass roots: “Of course such fundamental change cannot be built simply by co-operating with governments. In particular, we need to continue to engage with parliaments, the business sector, the press and civil society. Civil society in particular has played a vital role in the changes we have seen and will continue to play a vital role in the transition to come. We are actively supporting civil society and will better associate civil society to our policy dialogue with the partner countries.”
 
Commissioner Füle said the events of the Arab Spring had led the EU to rethink its approach to the Southern Neighbourhood, developing an approach that supported change – based on the principles of ‘more for more’ and mutual accountability.
 
“While implementation of the 'More for more' principle will be challenging – because there will inevitably be differences in how we perceive each country's progress - the direction is clear: we will only provide those extra incentives – extra funding, visa facilitation and liberalisation, greater access to the EU market – to those countries engaged in genuine political reforms.”
 
The Commissioner outlined the EU’s support to the region around the axis of the ‘Three Ms’ – money, mobility and markets, spelling out the increased resources available, and the new actions being taken. (ENPI Info Centre)
 
Read more
 
Füle speech
 
EC factsheet – The EU's response to the 'Arab Spring'
 
ENPI Info Centre – EU leaders underline special relationship as new Tunisian premier visits Brussels (02-02-12)\
 
 

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