The EU and the Southern Neighbors in the Wake of the Arab Spring The Democracy-Security Dilemma

For more than two decades, the European Union (EU) has increasingly been using soft power to consolidate democracy, spread human rights and market economy principles to its neighbors (east and south) in addition to maintaining security and stability on its expanding borders. While economic cooperation, security and immigration areas were the most advanced in the relations with the neighbors (mainly southern), the story with respect to democratization was a failure. Since the Barcelona Process in 1995, many agreements, summits and policies between the EU and the MENA took place showing a combination of external EU territorilization and functionalism at work. However, functionalism was more dominant as the focus of the EU was on security at the expense of spreading European democratic values and human rights. The EU has used democracy promotion as a tool and not as a goal with respect to the southern neighbors. So the question this chapter seeks to answer is: With the Arab Spring events, is there a change in the EU democratization attitude regarding the MENA region to support a democratic change that will bring the neigbhbors closer to the EU norms and values? To answer this question, the paper argues that despite the Arab Spring revolts; the EU continues to pursue an interest-based realist approach to maintain stability and security on its southern borders.