The EU’s ad hoc Policy Towards the Middle East after the Refugee Crisis. A View From Central Europe

Lecture | February 8 | 4-5:30 p.m. | Stephens Hall, Geballe Room, 220 (Townsend)

 Łukasz Fyderek, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Institute of Middle and Far East Studies, Jagiellonian University

 Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES)

Over the years the Southern Dimension of the European neighborhood policy has been characterized by efforts to promote stability and prosperity. The aim was to build “a ring of friends” from the Caucasus to the Sahara, using a plethora of foreign policy instruments and economic incentives. Within the EU, the matter was relatively uncontroversial, and since 2008 a division of labor became visible, with Southern EU member states setting the policy agenda of relations with the Middle East and North Africa, while Central European and Scandinavian governments are more involved in shaping the bloc’s relations with the Post-Soviet states. The EU’s neighborhood policy seemed to be dominated by cumbersome bureaucratic decision-making and of little interest to the general public. The refugee crisis of 2015-2016 has dramatically altered these attitudes. Issues closely related to the neighborhood policy such as border control and migration became a focal point for polarizing debate, in which V4 countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia) contested the existing consensus. Marred by internal tensions, the EU launched a set of ad hoc policy initiatives towards Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, and various Libyan non-state actors, aimed at taming irregular migration. The leaders of Central European countries, who have been routinely criticized for their refusal to accept refugee quotas, started calling for a more active European role in stabilizing the Middle East and North Africa. During this talk, Professor Fyderek will explore recent developments and discuss the mutual relations between the internal politics and the external policy of the EU.