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Diego Javier Liñán: "The European Neighbourhood Policy is at risk, the European Union must become more involved"

The Professor of International Public Law and Internal Relations at the University of Granada spoke into the microphones of 'De cara al mundo'
Diego Javier Liñán

 -   Diego Javier Liñán

In the latest edition of the programme 'De cara al mundo' on Onda Madrid, Diego Javier Liñán Nogueras, Professor of International Public Law and Internal Relations at the University of Granada, spoke about the European Union's Southern Neighbourhood Policy, stressing that EU bodies should become more involved.

Is promoting and improving the European Union's Southern Neighbourhood Policy key to the stability of all?

Absolutely, the whole European Neighbourhood Policy is key to the stability and progress of the European Union. If Europe does not have peace on its borders, if a certain cohesion and even a certain integration of neighbouring countries is not assured, it is clear that there is a powerful threat to stability.

At the conference held at the Three Cultures Foundation, at which you spoke, many aspects were addressed, which sector do you think is most relevant in these southern neighbourhood policies?

We have to find a way to protect the European Neighbourhood Policy, which is at risk. The European Neighbourhood Policy for the European Union is a key element, in my opinion it is being well taken care of. For the south we now have an important initiative, the new agenda for the Mediterranean, which if there is one thing wrong with it, it is over-ambition, because it can be detrimental. Personally, I find it very interesting and, of course, the new financial instruments for neighbourhood, development cooperation and cooperation 2021 seem interesting to me, but there is a threat that needs to be faced and it needs to be faced soon.

The neighbourhood must act in other areas...

For at least ten years, in terms of neighbourhood, we have been dragging along problems that we have not been able to tackle. We can no longer consider the neighbourhood only in terms of cooperation, we must include it within the sphere of external action, because many problems are arising at the border, not in the sphere of cooperation, integration or partnership with countries, but real security problems that we have to face. Not just the traditional issues of terrorism, but problems of managing migratory flows in which the European Union must become more involved are appearing. 

Is there a need for a new neighbourhood strategy?

Problems are arising because there are competing, even unfriendly, strategies, such as Russia's, which are creating problems for the European Union. That is why I propose that a new global strategy should be proposed, and that this new strategy should move forward the one we have from 2017. Including the European Neighbourhood Policy more decisively and not being afraid of the European Union getting involved in the management of migratory flows, in security problems and even in border defence. Today the President of the French Republic is asking the European Union to come in and help France manage migratory flows with the United Kingdom. In other words, we are facing problems that are requiring a global response and one that assumes that the European Union must also become involved in the issue of security management.

Diego Javier Liñán

Would you be in favour of European defence with greater autonomy? This would imply more investment, more commitment, acting in the event of conflict, as is currently the case with the interventions in Afghanistan or Iraq. 

This is the essential problem facing the European Union: it must take a step forward and become a relevant actor in terms of global strategy. If it does not play this game, it will not be a credible actor, and if it is not a credible actor, it will not be able to bring order even within its borders, and there are complicated borders such as those to the east and south. This is not to say that the instruments of cooperation are basic, but they must be protected by this more global policy.

Perhaps we Europeans are used to turning to our American big brother when things get too tricky. 

That is true. But of course, I think big brother America is shifting its strategic priorities to a place that is further away, it is beginning to be less interested in this area. We should have that strength that would come from having a common foreign and security policy, including a much better constructed defence. Perhaps the idea of the President of the French Republic of this strategic autonomy of the European Union is a new way forward, that and to develop a new global strategy. 

Does this global strategy require investment in the countries of origin of migrants, in order to try to prevent these people from risking their lives trying to reach the European paradise?

Undoubtedly, cooperation activity must not only take place, but it must be done effectively and decisively. That is why we need a global, powerful and credible instrumentation from the European Union, to be able to guarantee the management of this type of action that is coming our way. Furthermore, this guarantee, which is for the good of everyone, of these countries, but also for the good of the European Union, currently rests on the States because they are the ones who manage the border, and this must be changed. We must involve the European Union in this issue, not only in the fact that it is the one that finances this type of programme, but also involve it in the management of the European Union's own borders; this is a step that we must inevitably take. This is what will allow these policies, such as investment in the countries that produce migration, investment in carrying out regular migration, attention to the development of these countries, and digitalisation, which is now an inevitable process, to become common so that there can naturally be an area of certain economic convergence where inequality does not become a problem in the more or less immediate future. In other words, we need the European Union to be a credible power and, I insist, to be involved in this type of issue.

Diego Javier Liñán

On the other hand, Nourdine Mouati, expert in Cooperation and Director of Business Development at Audakia Lab, also intervened in De cara al mundo. When asked whether Morocco, Spain and Andalusia should lead the promotion of cooperation in the Mediterranean, the cooperation expert responded that:

Given the situation that is being experienced both in the southern Mediterranean basin and at the European level, Europe must look southwards more than ever, and this southern neighbourhood policy must be led by Spain and Morocco. The current situation in the 10 countries that make up the Southern Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. From Morocco to Syria, many countries are experiencing situations of political instability, confrontation and confrontation, such as Syria and Lebanon, which are currently experiencing a major institutional crisis, Algeria, with the popular demonstrations, what is happening in Tunisia, and the Libyan conflict, which we hope will be resolved after the next elections. The only country today that offers security and stability on the southern shores of the Mediterranean is Morocco, which is also a preferential partner of the European Union. This partnership between Morocco and Spain would be the most appropriate and the one that would lead this southern neighbourhood process in the European neighbourhood policy and the Euro-Mediterranean alliance that emerged in 2008 and which has not had the expected growth and development. Andalusia, given its excellent relations with Morocco, should also play an important role.