The EU’s Neighbourhood Policy Before the Arab Uprisings: Rhetoric Versus Reality

Paolo Maria Leo Cesare Maggiolini, Valeria Talbot, Andrea Teti, Pamela Abbott

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter sets the scene for analyses in Chaps. 4 and 5 by tracing the roots, rationales and evolution of the EU’s pre-Uprisings external relations in its Southern Neighbourhood. The chapter then examines the discursive structure of EU policies in the run-up to 2010–11 in three key areas: democracy, development and delivery. Key pre-Uprisings EU documents describe democracy in ‘procedural’ terms (elections, civil-political rights) and as defending the rights of women and minorities but pay scant attention to ‘difficult’ civil-political rights (association, protest) or to socioeconomic rights. Pre-Uprisings policy also aims for ‘sustainable and inclusive growth’ through economic liberalisation. Finally, conditionality is the EU’s main instrument for leveraging progress on human rights and democracy, making access to the Common Market conditional on delivery of progress in these areas. While pre-Uprisings delivery was framed in terms of both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ conditionality, in practice these levers were used exceedingly rarely.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDemocratisation against Democracy. How EU Foreign Policy Fails the Middle East
EditorsAbbot Pamela, Talbot Valeria, Maggiolini Paolo, Teti Andrea
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series



  • Arab Uprisings
  • Conditionality
  • Middle East
  • Development
  • EU
  • Democracy


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