The decades’ long relationship between the European Union and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has gone through different stages and phases in response to regional events, developments in the EU and broader global geopolitical trends. While navigating through often troubled waters, the EU has fallen prey to three main false dilemmas or perceived dichotomies regarding its role in the region. These dilemmas have taken on a life of their own and have impinged on the EU’s ability to realize its full potential. As such, the promotion of democracy has been perceived in opposition to the stability and security of the MENA countries and ultimately of the EU; the need to cooperate with the MENA governments has come at the expense of true engagement with their societies; and multilateralism and bilateralism have often been portrayed and pursued not as complementary but as alternative choices.
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