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L’Union européenne et le Maghreb

Training for students and activists from the Maghreb, in cooperation with the European Academy Otzenhausen and the Asko Europa Foundation

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Five years after the start of the upheavals in North Africa, the region still faces major challenges and requires numerous reforms. The impact of these reforms will be more profound and sustainable if they are carried out within the framework of a strong partnership between the states and cooperation with the European Union. In addition, security crises affecting the Mediterranean region no longer stop at national borders and therefore more than ever demand a common approach. Until now, however, the relations between Europe and the Maghreb are in many aspects characterized by a lack of knowledge which impedes closer cooperation. To tackle this issue, the KAS Regional Program Political Dialogue Southern Mediterranean in cooperation with European Academy Otzenhausen and the Asko Foundation organized a 10-day training for students and activists from Maghreb states. This "elite of tomorrow" is expected to act as multiplier and to exercise their influence on societies and politics of their respective countries by sharing the knowledge and experience which they have gained through the training.

Within the framework of this European Fall Academy 27 participants from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria came together to deepen their understanding of the EU and the EU Maghreb relations and to exchange experiences and best practices. The format included presentations, discussion as well as field trips.

During the conference days in the European Academy in Otzenhausen, the participants engaged with various aspects of the relationship between the European Union and the Maghreb through presentations and discussions. The opening remarks were given by Hans Beitz, Head of Department of International European Studies at the European Academy Otzenhausen and Dr. Canan Atilgan, Director of the KAS Regional Program Political Dialogue Southern Mediterranean. Afterwards the participants were introduced to the earliest beginnings of Europe, through a presentation on the first European people, the Celts, and a hike to the Celtic rampant Otzenhausen.

After this historic introduction to the topic, the presentations and discussions during the conference days included among others the following topics:

  • The four fundamental freedoms of the European single market
  • Regional integration in the Maghreb
  • The role of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) as reaction to the Arab Spring
  • The economic relations between the EU and the Maghreb
  • EU Neighborhood Policy
  • EU Policy concerning the topic of refugees
  • Possibilities for students from Maghreb countries to study in Germany
To complement the conference days, the program also included several excursions. One of these took the participants to Strasbourg to visit the Council of Europe and the European Parliament in order to better understand the work of the two institutions. During another excursion the participants visited Trier, where they gained insight into the topic of European regions, exemplified through the region SaarLorLux. During a third excursion the group then visited the European Investment Bank and the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxemburg. Additionally, the participants took part in a historic tour of Saarbrücken shedding light on the period of the German-French war. Through these first-hand experiences, the participants managed to gain a deeper understanding of the history and current situation of the European Union and of the work of selected European institutions and the role they play within the EU and for EU-Maghreb relations.

In the concluding discussion the participants then discussed the knowledge gained throughout the training, how it has changed their perception of EU-Maghreb relations and also which experiences and lessons they plan to share once back in their home countries.

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