The European Union, Security and the Southern Dimension

Posted on Saturday 22nd January 2011

Michelle Pace’s article on The European Union, Security and the Southern Dimension has been published in a Special Issue of the journal European Security (guest edited by George Christou and Stuart Croft).

With the coming into force of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the European Union (EU) annunciated what one could term an 'inclusionist approach' to security whereby this policy framework was based on supposedly joint commitments by all parties concerned to 'cooperative security'. However, EU actions on the ground in the south have shown that, despite good intentions, such cooperative security endeavours have, thus far, hardly materialised. The result instead is an 'exclusionist' policy, where the reduction of illegal migration from the south takes top priority in EU security discourse. Post-9/11, in the policy area of 'counter-terrorism' measures, the EU likewise demarcates 'liberal zones of civilisation' from 'illiberal' ones, leaving the dirty work of counter terrorism to countries such as Egypt and Morocco. In terms of governmentality, this may be described as a 'surveillance and control' approach to security: therefore, it is argued here that the EU, through its governance model, is actually enabling further in-security and in-stability in the south.

This article traces the formulation of the European Union’s (EU) security governance vis-a`-vis the southern dimension, in European terms, through multilateral/regional (the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) and the more recent Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean (UfM)) and bilateral policies (the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)). Through the use of discourse analysis, EU documents are thoroughly examined to highlight the EU’s own perceptions on security (and stability) and how, in EU discourse, security in its southern neighbourhood is prima facie linked up with security within European borders.

The article also draws upon the author’s field research in Brussels, Morocco, Egypt and Palestine. The EU tends to treat the littoral states of the Mediterranean in a monolithic way, making very little differentiation between the states of the southern neighbourhood in terms of their internal politics or susceptibility to EU policies - normative or material (Pace 2006). Put shortly, EU policy towards the south is informed, at least partially, by the idea that ‘our size fits all’. The article therefore discusses the region in the manner in which it is conceived of by the EU.

It concludes by arguing that the EU does face a set of conflicting goals that resist a clear rank ordering but it cannot possibly be a credible foreign policy actor in the security area if it continues with the status quo. Current EU policy towards the south in the security domain requires a clear vision and a sustainable, forward-looking strategy.

Available through EJournals

The European Union, security and the southern dimension (PDF 188KB, opens new window)