North Africa

38 - The Maghreb

Grade: B-
Unity 4/5
Resources 2/5
Outcome 5/10
Total 11/20
Scorecard 2012: C+ (10/20)
Scorecard 2013: C- (7/20)

Distinctly different paces of reform in the three Maghreb countries have met with standardised treatment under the ENP. 

The Maghreb remained the most stable part of MENA in 2014. The EU’s objective has been to support transitions where they are occurring in this sub-region, and where they are not, to at least challenge abuses of human rights and democratic backsliding while maintaining security and energy relationships with the governments in power.

Tunisia, which in 2014 adopted a constitution through an inclusive process and held peaceful parliamentary and presidential elections, is the one post-2011 transition in the region that appears to remain on the road to democracy. If the EU were serious about using diplomatic engagement and investment in the region to recognise political progress, Tunisia could have been expected to have benefited most from relations with its European neighbours. Yet it is not evident that it has. The three Maghreb countries have, if anything, diverged, with no significant changes in 2014 to the control that the Moroccan monarchy wields, and Algeria missing the opportunity of the April presidential elections to begin, if not a path to democracy, then at least a managed handover of power to a new generation. But the EU has maintained indistinguishable relations with all three powers and has invested in them in similar ways. Despite the differences in their readiness to reform, Morocco and Tunisia received similar amounts under the ENP, around €200–250 million in 2014, which was invested in priorities such as inclusive growth and democratic governance. And both are viewed as privileged partners under the revised ENP. Algeria, whose energy importance for Europe has grown further with uncertainties in Russian supplies, and whose mediation between different parties in Mali and relatively constructive intervention in Libya has heightened its security role, continues to discuss an Association Agreement with the EU, but has not been challenged on persistent gaps in the rule of law.

Undifferentiated treatment for different levels of progress and a failure to fulfil commitments to challenge injustice make it hard to assess the impact of EU policies in this sub-region.