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The 2010-2011 Arab uprisings have broken many myths and questioned the underpinnings of US and EU engagement with the region. We believe the ‘Arab Awakening’ represents a critical juncture in regional politics and in international relations, redefining a number of assumptions and approaches.

Many of the current debates in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco focus on citizenship rights and their evolution. There is also a need to understand the the background to these debates, including the implementation of sharia, the clash over the confessional or the secular nature of the State, of a social welfare agenda, the expansion or reduction of the role of the state or of the market.

The research project ‘Democracy and Citizenship rights in North Africa after the Arab Awakening: challenges to US and EU foreign policy’ (EUSPRING) aims at understanding how concepts of democracy and citizenship rights are interpreted by different social and political forces in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. At the same time, the project will investigate the extent to which a transatlantic dialogue over democracy assistance policies towards North Africa is taking place.

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The project, which started in February 2013 and will last until July 2016, is coordinated by the Università degli studi L'Orientale in Naples.

The consortium includes: the University of Warwick; the European Policy Center in Brussels; the German Marshall Fund in the United States; the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; Obserbatoire pour La Transition Democratique en Tunisie; and the Centre for Research on Africa and the Mediterranean (CERAM) in Rabat. EUSPRING is sponsored by Compagnia di San Paolo in Turin.

This collaborative project will analyse:

  • the new constitutions or constitutional drafts
  • the negotiations over the terms of the norms
  • and the way in which they have been presented to the public, criticized and defended.

dsc00799.jpgThe research also draws on in-depth interviews and focus groups. The mix of these three qualitative methodologies has rarely been applied to empirical work in the MENA region and we expect it to generate innovative insights and understandings of the role of conceptions, interests and preference formation by different actors.

This will offer new highly policy-relevant elements to be taken into account by external actors formulating new MENA strategies and approaches.

More about the project

EUSpring Final Conference's Programme, Naples, June 24, 2016

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New Forms of Democratic Citizenship in the Middle East and North Africa: An Alternative Approach for the EU and the United States, by Emiliano Alessandri, Rosa Balfour, Nicolas Bouchet and Richard Youngs, Report. n.3, July 2016