On EU–Arab democratisation

Towards a democratic “learning loop”

Authored by: Larbi Sadiki , Layla Saleh

Routledge Handbook of EU–Middle East Relations

Print publication date:  December  2021
Online publication date:  December  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367330767
eBook ISBN: 9780429317873
Adobe ISBN:


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Amidst the explosion of the Arab “hirak” (peoplehood), a brand of new politics has emerged since the 2011 Arab uprisings which demands the investigation of how democratic norms/values and instruments/processes can be integrated into a new approach towards democratisation in an EU–Arab association. This chapter explores an under-researched dimension of democratisation and EU–Arab relations through a threefold agenda. First, it critically assesses the trajectory of EU democracy promotion before and after the 2011 Arab uprisings. Secondly, we propose an alternative democratic “learning curve” approach. Third, drawing on the social capital literature, we focus on convergence and divergence of norms on both sides of the Mediterranean. Finally, the chapter turns to the open-ended, two-way, and dynamic play of norms and values that feed into what is called here a potential “democratic didactic loop”. The chapter argues that such a “didactic loop” can be fruitful for policy and academic analysis that approach EU–MENA challenges from the vantage point of shared democratic learning.

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