Natolin Neighbourhood Days 2020: "The EU’s Southern Neighbourhood in Transition: Whither Maghreb?"

Nine years into the so-called Arab Spring, the European Union’s Arab southern neighbourhood is still a far cry away from political liberalisation, let alone democratization. Except for Tunisia, authoritarian tendencies are re-emerging unapologetically, and past methods of political control are increasingly being re-deployed. To the extent that popular discontent with existing governance structures has resulted in mass protest and public pressure, incumbent regimes have – time and again – managed to channel public discontent by means of adopting cosmetic reforms, co-optation or repression. In fact, the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been instrumentalised by regimes to tighten the screws of non-democratic governance even further and bring political protest, at least for now, to a halt.

At the same time, countries in the EU’s Arab southern neighbourhood are faced with economic stagnation and unequal wealth distribution, religiously inspired radicalisation, direct or indirect exposure to territorial conflicts, fragile statehood, displacement and migration movements, as well as growing interference of external actors. The countries of the inner Maghreb – Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia – located in close proximity to the EU and connected to the latter through highly institutionalised association and cooperation frameworks, encapsulate most of these challenges.

This autumn’s Natolin Neighbourhood Days, organised by the European Neighbourhood Policy Chair, turned southwards and critically addressed many of these challenges with a view to provide students with a more thorough understanding of current political, politic-economic and security dynamics in an important EU neighbourhood sub-region. In addition to focusing on country and regional specificities in the Maghreb, this series of Neighbourhood Days also offered an EU angle and addressed past and current EU responses – if any – to authoritarian backsliding, economic malaise, and the emergence of an increasingly fragile, if not to say eroding, security order along its southern borders.

28 October 2020, 19:00–20:30

ENP High-Level Lecture by Dr Matt BUEHLER: "The Maghreb Post-Arab Spring: Domestic and Regional Challenges"

  • Dr Matt BUEHLER, Assistant Professor of political science at the University of Tennessee and Global Security Fellow at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. BUEHLER's research focuses on comparative and international politics of North Africa. He is the author of Why Alliances Fail: Islamist and Leftist Coalitions in North Africa (Syracuse University Press, 2018).

4 November 2020, 16:30–18:00

ENP Roundtable: "The Maghreb in Times of Covid-19: Transition in Crisis" 

  • Dr Isabelle WERENFELS, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin
  • Dr Amel BOUBEKEUR, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris
  • Prof. Abdeslam MAGHRAOUI, Duke University, North Carolina
  • Chair: Prof. Tobias SCHUMACHER, College of Europe, Natolin, Warsaw

17 November 2020, 17:15–18:45

ENP Chair High-Level Talk with Mr Alessio NARDI: "The Maghreb and the EU: In Search of New Meaning and Momentum"

  • Mr Alessio NARDI has been Member of the Cabinet of the Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér VÁRHELYI, since December 2019. He is responsible for North Africa, migration at horizontal level, budget, and relations with the IFIs, ECA and some member states like Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta. Before that, he worked at the European Parliament, where he oversaw the security and protection Unit and later joined the cabinet of the former President Antonio TAJANI.

The events were open to all students of the European Interdisciplinary Studies Department. For more information please consult Ms Maja OLSZEWSKA.