Senén Florensa

Executive President, IEMed

The European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), after being entrusted by the European Commission to conduct a yearly Survey of actors and experts on European-Mediterranean relations for the period 2009-2012, has carried out the 5th Survey with the aim of offering a way for experts and actors to express their evaluation of the Euro-Mediterranean relations, as well as to put forward proposals for decision-makers to address the challenges of the democratic transitions in Mediterranean Partner Countries.

This Survey was conducted three years after the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring, in a regional landscape where a military-led government had changed the situation in Egypt, and the Syrian war continued to destabilise the neighbouring countries. These elements led us to draft a questionnaire focused on the short- to mid-term scenarios following the domestic and geopolitical transformations in the region, the state of play of democratic transitions and the role of the European Union.

Furthermore, the questionnaire was designed to capture three main elements: an assessment of current transformations in the countries of the region; the assessment and points of view of respondents on these changes and, a forward-looking analysis of the region. The fieldwork of the present Survey was conducted between January and March 2014, coinciding with the third anniversary of the Arab uprisings and at a time when political transitions in the region were underway and a new mapping of actors was still being shaped. A total of 838 experts, policy-makers and civil society representatives from the 43 member countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) have participated in this year’s Survey.

As regards the structure, the report is divided into two main parts: a qualitative section meant to interpret and shed light on the results obtained, and a descriptive analysis of the quantitative data. For the preparation of the qualitative section, which consists of 12 articles in total, the participating experts were requested to analyse the results of the 5th Survey in light of the state of play in the Arab countries, while also taking into account the latest developments in the Euro-Mediterranean institutional architecture.

The results of the Survey on the transformations in the region show a clear contrast between the negative assessment of the most recent past and the openly positive long-term vision. They also show that there is a clear perception of greater multipolarity in the region.

In terms of strategies and policies, the main result reveals that there is still room for Euro-Mediterranean policies to have a more positive impact on strengthening democracy and good governance. This potential for improvement could be mainly based on developing a differentiated policy agenda at country level and, secondly, by changing the geographical definition of neighbourhood.

Indeed, from the results on EU policies, it has to be underlined that they show a lack of enthusiasm for neighbourhood policies. This may be linked to the fact that the heterogeneity of country situations, particularly in terms of political stability, drives a differentiated policy agenda. Moreover, as previously mentioned, the results of the Survey reveal that the present transformations are also affected by changes taking place beyond the neighbouring countries, and this could drive us to think about the geographical definition of the neighbourhood.