Building Connections: A 2024 Mediterranean Agenda for the Next European Commission - Regionalprogramm Politischer Dialog und regionale Integration im Südlichen Mittelmeer
Aiming to widen the debate among think-tankers and academics so as to encourage a shared reflection on the pressing challenges ahead of the next European Commission to be appointed in 2024, KAS PolDiMed and ECFR Rome convened a group of subject-matter experts to rethink the EU engagement in the South Mediterranean region.
In the first instance, the experts set out to reassess the changing dynamics of power relations around the southern Mediterranean and how they erode the EU’s geopolitical leverage. In this regard, a special attention was given to both the domestic and external dynamics, such as the consolidation of authoritarian rule in several South Mediterranean countries, and the growing role of several regional and international revisionist actors, such as Russia, China, and the GCC countries, as well as their proxies. Furthermore, the experts zoomed in on the growing engagement of Italy in the Maghreb, particularly in the energy field, and how this could reinvigorate the EU´s geopolitical role in the region especially if extended to encompass other strategic sectors such as defense.
In addition, the experts provided a critical and constructive assessment of the outgoing commission’s approach towards the South[V1] Mediterranean region and its meager track record, especially when it comes to addressing the interlinked regional crises, such as security stabilization and migration matters.
The workshop was concluded with a policy-oriented panel that focused on how the EU should make use of its standing and of the tools at its disposal to craft a new approach towards the region, and explore a new, sustainable, long-term, and inclusive EU strategy for its Southern Neighborhood. In this regard, the experts focused on four[V2] key areas which are security sector reforms, economic development, energy, and migration.
To sum up, the experts agreed on the urgency of crafting a new EU narrative towards its southern neighborhood guided by “principled pragmatism” that acknowledges the region as it is, while sticking with the EU normative principles which are inherent to its political identity.