Europe in North Africa: Fighting Short-Termism

The stability, security and prosperity of both Europe and North Africa are inextricably linked and both regions are bound in a strategic relationship. European countries - both individually and collectively (inside and outside the framework of the European Union) - have to develop a more strategic approach to their Southern neighbourhood in order to overcome the current migration crisis, work with the North African states to counter violent extremism, and make the most of the many economic opportunities that could derive from closer cross-Mediterranean cooperation. Yet, as North African countries are experiencing varying degrees of political turmoil, and Europe itself is occupied with internal and external challenges, there is a danger that European governments (and the EU) are fixating on short-term, tactical solutions that are likely to be ineffective at best, and have the potential to be counter-productive and damaging to both regions at worst. Despite the crises and pressures of the day, Europe therefore needs a more flexible and strategic vision for its engagement with North Africa. This brief outlines the importance of a coordinated and strategic engagement with North Africa for Europe (and this includes Britain despite its withdrawal from the EU). Only an approach that integrates tactical crisis response with long-term strategic vision can effectively confront the pressing needs of controlling cross-Mediterranean migration and countering violent extremism, while enabling both Europe and its North African neighbours to make the most of the many opportunities deriving from closer cooperation.