With the peoples’ revolutions and uprisings in the Arab region, citizens have been reclaiming their rights from which they were deprived under previous oppressive regimes, including the set of indivisible political, economic, social, and cultural rights. Along the multiplicity of factors leading to the peoples’ revolutions, including political repressions, corruption, and lack of accountability, there was the failure of social and economic development models. The citizen was excluded from the economic and social policy making under previous regimes, which were developed to serve the few, while causing increase in poverty, unemployment, and inequalities. Now, citizens are calling for a new development paradigm, which re-enforces their right to development and economic and social justice.

These democratic spaces and rights reclaimed by the citizens of the Arab region, especially the Tunisian and Egyptian citizens who succeeded in toppling the previous oppressive regimes in each country, should not be violated as a result of partnerships established by previous regimes or financial flows distortive of national development processes. Within this broader consideration, civil society groups from the Arab region have been calling on the European Union (EU) to consider the need for revisiting the basis, priorities, and policy approaches within its partnerships with Arab countries, and on various fronts- the political, economic, social, and cultural. This would include revisiting the trade and investment policies between the EU and Arab countries, to tailor and manage those policies in order to serve a democratically revised development paradigm that achieves dynamic and justly-distributed growth, productive capacities, employment generation, and poverty eradication.

Furthermore, for the purposes of supporting the people’s revolutions and aspirations, it is essential to ensure that related aid and financial flows from the EU are directed to serve social and economic justice and the public good, based on the democratically re-established economic and social visions in each of the recipient countries. For those purposes, the EU Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), along the recipient governments have a responsibility to ensure transparency regarding the amounts of the assigned aid and its nature- whether grants or loans- and other financial flows through the EIB and EBRD. This applies as well to the related mechanisms of disbursement, the monitoring mechanisms and criteria (including clear measurement criteria of the interventions’ added value in terms of poverty reduction, employment creation, and respect of democratic processes), and the beneficiaries in terms of sectors and entities.

Indeed, such steps are essential for establishing the common future of prosperity and stability that the peoples of the EU and the Arab countries could share.

By Kinda Mohamadieh – Programs Director at the Arab NGO Network for Development