Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

European neighbourhood policy

Delivered in Plenary - 13th December 2011

Madam President

The European neighbour policy nobly aims to promote in our nearest neighbours democracy, human rights and prosperity. The idea is more for more, that is to say, the closer they get to us the more aid, trade and political concessions they get from the European Union.

Our neighbourhood has experienced a tumultuous year. There have been widespread popular protests across the Mediterranean southern shores brought about by the fall of despotic regimes, and to the east continuing tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, and Georgia with Russia, and a clear deterioration in the democratic values in Ukraine, with the arrest of the leading opposition figures.

The recent victories for Islamist parties in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco beg the question of whether the Arab Spring will shortly become the Arab Winter, as hopes for multiparty, pluralist free market democracies fade in the Middle East and North African countries. For now we must carry on giving financial and technical support to all these countries to stabilise them and prevent civil unrest and mass migratory movements in our direction. Clearly, though, if the European Union sees a theocracy emerge in a large country like Egypt, all bets must be off.