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European Union - North Africa relations

From October 25, 2012 until November 05, 2012

On Monday November 5th, Casa Árabe and the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) office in Madrid organized the launching of the report A Power Audit of EU - North Africa relations.

It took place at 11.00 at Casa Árabe’s Auditorium (c/ Alcalá, 62) and the participants on the event were Nick Witney, ECFR Senior Policy Fellow and co-author of the report; Ana Palacio, former minister of Foreign Affairs; Juan José Escobar, Spanish Ambassador on Special Mission for Mediterranean Affairs; Charles Powell, director of the Elcano Royal Institute, and Olivia Orozco, coordinator of Training, Economy and Business at Casa Árabe.

The main thesis of the publication maintains that a new context is emerging in the North of Africa two years after the beginning of the democratization waves. Although the European initial response was respectable now it is time to avoid relapsing into business proposals as usual. On the other hand, Europe has to aim to be more significant. Even though current financial situation is difficult, Europe can and should promote a more audacious view for its relations to the North of Africa. A less technocratic vision more focused on political opportunities, geo-strategic, security, development cooperation and interests will be, undoubtedly, more effective for Europe.

The original version (in English) of the A Power Audit of EU - North Africa relations report can be downloaded at the website Besides, the September-October issue of the magazine Política Exterior has published a brief version in Spanish of it, titled ¿A qué puede aspirar la UE en el norte de África? [What can Europe aspire to in the North of Africa?].

Nick Witney

He is an ECFR Senior Policy Fellow since it was created in 2007. He was chosen by Javier Solana in January 2004 to lead the project team charged with developing the concept and blue-print for the European Defence Agency. Following the approval by the European Council of the team's proposals in July 2004 (an achievement recognised by the European Voice in nominating Nick one of its 50 ‘Europeans of the Year'), he was appointed to establish and run the Agency for its first 3 years.

Nick's previous career, after reading Classics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, was spent in British Government service, first with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and later with the Ministry of Defence (MOD). As a diplomat he learned Arabic in Lebanon and Jordan, served in Baghdad. His last job before Brussels was as the MOD's Director-General of International Security Policy where he was responsible for NATO and EU policy as well as missile defence. ECFR has already published a wide list of reports, among them, How to Stop the Demilitarisation of Europe, November 2011, and the latest publications: Egypt’s Hybrid Revolution: A Bolder EU Approach and After the Revolution: Europe and the Transition in Tunisia.