Euromesco Spot-On n°13 – April 2020: COVID-19, a stress-test for Euro-Mediterranean relations
April 10, 2020
There is little doubt that the coronavirus will be another litmus test for Euro-Mediterranean relations, which were already strained or at best on hold for a number of reasons, even before the crisis.
At the time these lines are being written, it is still too early to determine how strong the virus will hit Maghreb and Mashreq countries. There are important question marks both in relation with the reliability of official numbers and the future scenarios. However, even under the most optimistic ones, the impact on the region is likely to be severe.
The EU response will be determined and constrained by a series of factors of different kinds. But despite many constraints, the EU has been rather quick in getting its act together.
Business as usual will not be an option for EU relations with its Southern Neighbourhood, neither this year nor probably beyond 2020, as the Euro-Mediterranean partnership may be reshaped as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
The EU will have to adjust its ENP instruments in the medium term, balancing between its core interests in terms of security and migration, its new political priorities such as the Green Deal and digitalisation, and the new reality emerging from the crisis. While doing so, it will need to be flexible and creative. The EU needs to reinvent itself internally and come up with new instruments to deal with the situation. The same probably goes for its external policies.