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Survival of the Fittest: The First Five Years of Euro-Mediterranean Economic Relations


  • Tobias Schumacher


The EU's development strategy towards its Southern near abroad resembles the development economic Leitmotiv of the early Nineties, i.e. the Washington Consensus with its three pillars of macro-economic stabilisation, structural adjustment and liberalisation. Beyond that, however, it rests on the modernisation theoretical basis paradigm developed by Seymour Martin Lipset in 1959. In accordance with the optimistic convergence hypothesis, both the European Commission and the Council of Ministers assume that economic development correlates positively with the creation of democratic structures in the Third Countries of the Mediterranean (TCM). In other words, economic liberalisation, as a prerequisite for both the introduction of Euro Mediterranean Free Trade and the expansion of the Euro-Mediterranean trade exchange, should lead to increasing prosperity as well as to the formation and the widening of middle class actors. These should, in turn, due to their newly acquired participation rights in the economic area, almost inevitably demand further participation in the political realm. Ideally, this would be followed by a political liberalisation process that encompasses the whole Southern Mediterranean area and that will result in a democratisation of all the TCM.Based on this assumption and the concept of incomplete contracting, this study aims to show two interrelated insights: 1.) that the main goal of the Barcelona Process, i.e. to contribute to the socio-economic development in the TCM, has not been achieved during its first five years; 2.) that the envisaged modernisation theory-inspired spill-over from the economic to the political level was severely hampered. It will be shown that the Euro-Mediterranean trade nexus, which appears as the primary tool for the realisation of the EMP's above mentioned objective, has been adjusted to the needs of EU-European market providers while the asymmetrical structure of Euro-Mediterranean trade-which was already visible during the approche globale and the subsequent 'Renovated Mediterranean Policy'-as been further aggravated to the disadvantage of the TCM. The paper concludes with some remarks related to the linkage between the structure of Euro-Mediterranean trade relations and the explanatory power of modernisation theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Tobias Schumacher, 2004. "Survival of the Fittest: The First Five Years of Euro-Mediterranean Economic Relations," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 13, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:euirsc:p0132

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    international relations; Mediterranean;

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