Task: 14/3 Impact of EU foreign policy. How does EU’s external policy affect the foreign policy of the country where you live or where you come from? (Essay of 500 words)
With the integration of ten new members in 2004 the European Union expanded its external borders. These are now merely 80 km (Cyprus) away from the Middle East. And this in turn implies that the Middle East conflict moved a lot closer towards EU-Europe as well, which increases the risk of involvement. In order to avoid the emergence of a new rift between an enlarged EU and its neighbours to the east, the EU has formulated a set of foreign policies. Its central element is the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), offering technical and financial support measures – first and foremost in the areas of politics and economy. I will illustrate how the EU’s external policy affects the foreign policy of its new neighbour Lebanon.
According to the European Commission, “the main goal of EU - Lebanon long standing partnership is to promote the development of Lebanon as a democratic, politically open and economically strong neighbour of the EU” (2008a). This includes the respect for democratic principles and fundamental human rights. Through the respective foreign ministries of its member states and their diplomatic missions on site, the EU engages among others in providing legal advice, training measures, election assistance, or development aid. Such an institutional strengthening facilitates the enforcement of reforms towards more democracy and openness.
Moreover, one of the EU’s major strategic objectives is to build security in its neighbourhood in terms of conflict prevention through intensified relations (European Commission 2008b, p. 1). Lebanon is the battleground for regional powers. Especially the Israeli/Palestinian issue has strong effects on Lebanese politics, respectively on security in the whole region. Hence, to strengthen stability, and thus to ensure peace is a big issue. The EU provides e.g. half of the troops (i.e. 7.000) within the UNIFIL mission (Economist 2006). In addition, the EU placed a police mission in the adjacent Palestine territories (EUPOL COPPS), provides training for the Lebanese police (ISF), and helps to reform the security sector in general (e.g. through border management projects).
All these single measures have reciprocal effects, encouraging a deeper cooperation in security issues. A good EU role model and the necessary support spur Lebanon to respond with a respective policy formulation towards the EU and towards its neighbours.
Trade relations are governed by the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement 2006. It aims particularly at the liberalization of trade in goods with the subsequent goal of establishing a bilateral Free Trade Area. All in all, this agreement is an important step towards economic reforms, which will ensure macroeconomic stability, structural reforms, and the opening of markets towards its neighbours (compare EU 2008b). So e.g., Lebanon agreed on the elimination of tariffs on imports between 2008 and 2014 (European Commission 2008d).
The CSP 2007-2010 as part of the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument (ENPI) is another tool to support Lebanon’s own program of democratic, social and economic reforms, holding forth 187 Mio. EUR (European Commission 2008c, p.4). Bringing down among others the country’s debt from 175% of GDP in 2005 to 138% of GDP by 2010 by means of creating a strong administration will improve the economic climate in general (European Commission 2008c, p. 6).
To conclude: EU foreign policy towards Lebanon is closely connected with the issue of stability/peace. However, just this week European Parliament president Pöttering visited Lebanon’s newly elected president Sleiman to reiterate the EU’s support of Lebanese sovereignty and of the peace process in the Middle East “on both the political and economic levels” (The Daily Star 2008). By tying the country closer to Europe by dint of support measures in various fields, the EU can influence Lebanese foreign policy towards a mutual commitment to common values in terms of democracy, the rule of law, market economy and last but not least towards stability in the whole region.
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- Free University of Berlin – Center for Global Politics
- Europe Europa Lebanon Libanon European politics Europapolitik EU European Union Europäische Union stability Stabilität peace Frieden