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Monthly Archives: February 2014

EU Neighbourhood Barometer is part of the Regional Communication Programme 2012-2014. It aims to generate an analysis tool for DEVCO (Directorate General Development and Cooperation, EuropeAid) and the EU Delegations in the 17 countries and territories neighbouring the European Union about the population knowledge and perception of the EU Neighbourhood Policy (ENPI) and its cooperation activities and programmes. The project (neighbourhood barometer) has two objectives: (i)  to measure public opinion towards the EU policy in the respective country of the EU Neighbourhood area; (ii) to monitor the media coverage in each country of the EU Neighbourhood area related to the EU and EU cooperation/policy.

As far as the first (i) objective is concerned two waves of opinion polls were conducted in 2012; similar results for 2013 are unfortunately not available. Section 3 and 4 of the 2012 Barometer is dealing with the ‘perceptions on the European Union’ and perceptions on ‘aid and cooperation with the European Union’ respectively.  Key findings show that around 40-42% of the citizens (ENPI South, 10 countries) had a positive image of the EU in 2012; ca. 20% of the respondents found the EU neutral, a little less than one third of them had either no opinion or did not know what to think about the EU, whereas only 9 percent had an explicitly negative view on it on average. Taking a closer look at the results the ‘do not know’ answers were very rare in Israel (6%) and Palestine (5%), somewhat higher in Jordan (16%) and extremely high in Egypt (66%). Only 20 percent of the Egyptians said that they had a positive view on the EU (Israel: 34%, Jordan: 48%, Palestine: 50%), while the EU-image is the most negative in Israel (20%), which is followed by Palestine (16%), Egypt (6%) and Jordan (3%). According to the polls findings, citizens of the ENPI South countries were (are) poorly aware of the EU cooperation programmes, development and humanitarian assistance included: 45% of the respondents did not know anything about it, whereas 28% said that the EU had not provided financial support for their countries. As authors of the report note “the availability and the quality of the EU-related information appear to be insufficient for ENPI South citizens”, especially in Egypt (74% said ‘do not know’ and Jordan: 57%). The most informed respondents lived in  Palestine where two thirds of those interviewed knew that the EU provided financial support for cooperation programmes in their country. Indeed, most of the Palestinians, even ordinary people have firm opinion on how the Western/EU/international cooperation works. Qualitative interviews revealed that those beneficiaries being familiar with aid(ing) are content neither with the technical-level cooperation (projects), nor with the policies behind (Paragi 2012a, Paragi 2012b). These results are well illustrated by this short film conducted by Dalia (http://www.dalia.ps/), a local Palestinian civil organization in 2011:

International Aid hurts Palestinian Society

European Neighbourhood Barometer. South. Wave 2, Autumn, 2012. TNS Opinion

http://euneighbourhood.eu/wave-autumn-2012/

European Neighbourhood Barometer. South. Wave 1, Spring, 2012 TNS Opinion

http://euneighbourhood.eu/wave-spring-2012-2/

Slightly before the Palestinian report on Pegase, the European Court of Auditors prepared a similar one analyzing the effects of EU aid on the Egyptian governance. The auditors evaluated the EU’s support for governance in Egypt as “well intentioned, but ineffective” adding that “the main human rights programme was largely unsuccessful. Equally, Women’s and minorities’ rights were not given sufficient attention by the EU, whereas the Egyptian authorities by and large ignore them. The effectiveness as the report points it out “depends on the local and regional political environment and comes in combination with the authorities’ commitment in the area.” The judgement clearly reflects the limits of external assistance, the constraints to be taken into account. Unlike in the case of the Palestinian ECA-report, virtually all the recommendations of the Court’s report (see paragraphs 80 to 82) have been accepted by the Commission and the EEAS; the conclusions were formally adopted in October. Improving the effectiveness of EU policy dialogue on governance on the one hand and strengthening the management of the budget support instrument on the other hand was reiterated, while at the same time the Commission reshaped the internal rules for granting budget support (see next paragraph). It was also stressed by the Commission and the EEAS that “in the context of the design of a new State-Building Contract under AAP 2013,  (the ongoing dialogue) will include democratic governance indicators.” However, even if the democratic transition in Egypt continues to be supported, there are more and more who fail to see much improvement in the situation in Egypt.

As the recent two Conclusions of the Council of the European Union (August 2013, February 2014) on Egypt prove, budgetary assistance is not available to those governments that are not ready to cooperate with European norms (cf. the military takeover in Summer 2013). The conclusions list at length the democratic values and principles in order to explain that only “assistance in the socio-economic sector and to civil society will continue” (EEAS/EC 2013). After the Council reiterated its position in February 2014 (EEAS/EC 2014), the Egyptian Ministry of Planning issued a communication on the Egyptian reading of the story: “the EU appoints itself as a judge or guardian to assess the political and social developments in Egypt, and thus it interferes in the management of the transitional phase. This is an unacceptable and incorrect approach by the EU, rejected by the Egyptian people who carried out two revolutions to achieve genuine democracy and to be able to determine their future on their own” (MEM 2014).

ECA (2013): EU cooperation with Egypt in the field of governance. Special Report 4/2013. Luxemburg: European Court of Auditors. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201306/20130624ATT68309/20130624ATT68309EN.pdf

EEAS/EC (2013) Council conclusions on Egypt. The Council of the European Union, Foreign Affairs Council meeting, Brussels, 21 August 2013, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/138599.pdf (12-01-2014)

EEAS/EC (2014) Council conclusions on Egypt. The Council of the European Union, Foreign Affairs Council meeting, Brussels, 10 February 2014, http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/egypt/press_corner/all_news/news/2014/20140209_en.pdf (12-02-214)

MEM (2014) Egyptian foreign ministry slams EU council conclusions. Middle East Monitor, February 11, 2014,https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/9690-egyptian-foreign-ministry-slams-eu-council-conclusions(13-02-2014)