The European Union (EU) has come out with a new agenda for the southern neighbourhood, reflecting a changing environment in which the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for a shared economic and social recovery are put to the forefront. Does this new agenda respond to the demands and practices of the Arab uprisings or does it revert to the stability paradigm? We argue that the EU could regain relevance in a multipolar region by putting itself more firmly behind citizens and their demands in the region. Rather than seeing citizens as “norm-takers” of the EU, it needs to begin to see them as “norm-makers”, including for the EU. COVID-19 has so far seemed to delay the EU’s entry into a new era, but it could yet act as a catalyst for the bloc to rethink its policies in the longer term. In this respect, the Green Deal may offer most potential for the EU to move forward towards a more sustainable and equitable approach that puts participatory democracy, the whole range of human rights and social–ecological justice upfront.
Read more here.