A new process for a Euro-Arab Dialogue on Cooperation and Security (EADCS)
The tensions which affect Euro-Arab relations are disturbing and fraught with political, economic and social consequences, as much for the Arab world as for Europe. The only way to reduce the tensions is to fundamentally rethink these relations, with the double objective of safeguarding this space and sketching the outlines of an era of cooperation and prosperity. No country, either in Europe or in the Arab world, has any interest in prolonging these tensions, particularly during a period of crisis and questioning. Cooperation and security are an absolute and unavoidable necessity for all the countries and, of course, all the peoples concerned.
The need for a new dialogue
After all the years of tension, lessons should be learnt from the stalling of the Barcelona Process and the relative failure of the Union for the Mediterranean. Equally, it is important to find a response to the aspirations expressed by millions of young people, particularly during the uprisings of the Arab springs beginning in 2010/2011. To do nothing would be tantamount to prolonging the tensions, at the risk of creating new points of conflict.
The only valid, indispensable option available is to reopen the dialogue by means of a broad-based consultation of civil society and include all those who are, first and foremost, concerned by an easing of tension, in other words the citizens of all the Euro-Arab countries. This is the proposal put forward by the Foundation for the Promotion of Mediterranean and Euro-Arab Dialogue (FMEAD) in Geneva, which has just been endorsed by a study carried out by the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva.
The proposal is intended to lead to the drafting of a White Paper which is to serve as the basis for establishing a Euro-Arab dialogue, which will, in turn, hopefully lead to the opening of inter-governmental negotiations with the object of concluding a new Euro-Arab Agreement on Cooperation and Security.
This initiative will be developed around two major stages:
- Consultation with Euro-Arab civil society, leading to the publication of a White Paper,
- Opening of Euro-Arab intergovernmental negotiations, leading to the adoption of a Euro-Arab Agreement on Cooperation and Security
The first stage will be managed by civil society with the support of the governments and all the private and public institutions likely to contribute to this consultation process.
The second stage will be managed and run by the governments directly, with as broad a participation as possible on the part of civil society and all the institutions likely to contribute to the success of the negotiations.
This initiative, which will take place over a period of about four to five years, is in the interests of all parties concerned, both in Europe and in the Arab world.
Administering the dialogue process
The first part of the dialogue will be carried out by setting up a partnership of institutions in the Euro-Arab civil society, with the support of a Secretariat for the drafting of the White Paper supplied by the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva. The Secretariat will be funded by both public and private contributions, with a strong commitment from private partners, particularly foundations, for the drafting of the White Paper.
A “Euro-Arab Commission on Cooperation and Security”, comprising between fifteen and twenty public figures representing both the Arab and the European worlds, will be responsible for overseeing and validating the drafting of the White Paper, and will liaise with the governments of all those Euro-Arab countries wishing to give their support to this initiative in the same way as the United Nations Commission for Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) which culminated in the Rio Summit in 1992.
A group of like-minded countries will be created during the drafting phase of the White Paper in order to prepare the opening of the second stage of the dialogue – the intergovernmental negotiations aimed at adopting a new Euro-Arab Agreement on Cooperation and Security.
Based on the model of the process which contributed to the success of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Geneva/Tunis (2003-2005), civil society will be called upon to make its contribution to the inter-governmental negotiations.
Proposed calendar for the development of this new Euro-Arab dialogue:
2016-2018 : Consultation with civil society and drafting of the White Paper
2018-2019 : Intergovernmental negotiations aimed at adopting a new Euro-Arab Agreement on Cooperation and Security
2020 : Signature of the Euro-Arab Agreement on Cooperation and Security.
- The strategic partnership sets up the Secretariat and ensures its funding (with the aid of the governments concerned)
- The Commission supervises the activities of the Secretariat
- The Secretariat ensures the management, coordination and drafting of the White Paper
- The Commission endorses the White Paper
- The Secretariat consults with the Euro-Arab civil society on the drafting of the White Paper
- The Commission contacts the governments and inter-governmental organisations in order to set in motion the intergovernmental negotiations
- The White Paper specifically makes proposals regarding the organisational arrangements of Euro-Arab civil society to enable it to participate in the inter-governmental negotiations
- The intergovernmental Secretariat establishes the contacts necessary for consultation with Euro-Arab civil society
- The governments and inter-governmental organisations ensure the organisation and management of the intergovernmental negotiations
- Euro-Arab civil society is included in the intergovernmental discussions
- The governments negotiate and adopt a Euro-Arab Agreement on Cooperation and Security
* FES Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
* DAFG – Deutsch-Arabische Freundschaftsgesellschaft
* IRIS – Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques
* CERI – Centre de recherches internationales de Sciences Po
* USJ – L'Université de Saint Joseph à Beyrouth