This page was archived on October 2020.


Co-operation on regional and global issues

33 - Relations with the US on the Arab transition

Grade: B+
Unity 4/5
Resources 4/5
Outcome 6/10
Total 14/20


Europeans and Americans tried – and to some extent succeeded – in coordinating their aid to support Arab countries in transition.

Americans and Europeans broadly agreed in their analysis of what needs to be done to support Arab countries in transition. In 2012, American and European coordinators for aid to the region, most notably William Taylor for the State Department and Bernardino León for the EEAS – but also Italian, German, French, and Spanish coordinators – conferred every three months or so in informal meetings, which also included Turkey. They exchanged evaluations and tried to maximise the effectiveness of their action and influence in transition countries such as Egypt and Tunisia. For example, they jointly agreed to condition significant cash transfers to Egypt to the acceptation of an IMF agreement, thereby getting more leverage (though the Turks didn’t go along with this particular conditionality).

Some countries in the region do not want to see aid coordinated, as was the case for Egypt when Minister of International Cooperation Faiza Abou el-Naga was still in office. On the other hand, the new Tunisian government expressed an interest in such coordination and suggested to set up a new mechanism to coordinate all donors including international organisations. Donor coordination, moreover, is not always effective on the ground because Europeans and Americans have their bureaucratic rigidities, and actual cooperation with the Arab countries is mostly done on a bilateral basis.

At a more general level, Americans and Europeans failed to come up with a more ambitious initiative such as a joint Marshall Plan for North Africa. The Deauville format launched by the G8 in 2011 did not deliver as hoped either. Europeans have the feeling that Americans let them bear the brunt of support to countries in transition; Americans, for their part, have the feeling that Europeans promised a lot but did not deliver commensurately. The US, however, has also been working with Central European member states (Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and Slovenia), both in the Emerging Donors Challenge Fund and also the Community of Democracies.