Wednesday

8th Jul 2020

Barroso to young Arabs: 'We are with you'

  • Barroso as a young man took part in Portugal's 'Carnation Revolution' (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has urged Moammar Gaddafi to step down and outlined ideas on a new EU north Africa policy ahead of an EU summit on Libya next week.

"It is time for him [Gaddafi] to go and give the country back to the people of Libya," he said in the EU capital on Wednesday (2 March). "It is our duty to say to the Arab people that we are on their side. From Brussels I want to say this particularly to the young Arabs that are now fighting for freedom and democracy: We are on your side."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Calling the series of revolutions in north Africa a "rendezvous with history" for the Union, he noted that the post-World-War-II and post-Cold-War EU itself is born from the fight against totalitarian regimes.

"Some are saying ... that Arabs are not fit for democracy. I believe that Arabs are fit for democracy and we are on their side," he went on. "I think Europe would rather be guilty of holding on to dreams of democracy than to be accused of cynicism."

The strong words come on day 16 of the violence in Libya which the EU estimates has cost up to 2,000 lives, created 140,000 refugees on the Tunisian and Egyptian borders and prompted the evacuation of around 9,000 EU citizens.

The commission chief was himself as a young man part of the underground in Portugal in the run-up to the overthrow of the authoritarian regime of Marcelo Caetano in what became known as the 'Carnation Revolution.'

Mr Barroso said he will step up emergency funding for food and shelter for refugees from €3 million to €10 million and send EU aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva to the region later on Wednesday to oversee spending.

He mentioned that another €25 million is available from different budget lines, in part to help Italy and Malta cope with people fleeing the fighting.

The commission chief will urge EU leaders at a Libya summit next week to create a new foreign policy for the Maghreb and the Middle East: "We must not just deal with the fallout of this crisis. We must help address the root of this crisis. We need a new political paradigm ... we need a partnership for democracy ad shared prosperity."

The new Barroso model is based on three parts.

The commission wants to spend the €4 billion left in the pot up until 2013 for its 16 neighbouring countries to reward those that make democratic reforms.

It is keen to see a new "stimulus package" to combat poverty and youth unemployment in the south. The package is to focus on small businesses and is to be funded in part by European Investment Bank loans and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development assistance.

It also wants EU countries to ease visa conditions for students, academics, NGOs and "bona fide" businessmen.

In the context of deep mistrust of the West in the Arab world due to EU countries' colonial history and their more recent embrace of dictators for the sake of oil, arms and counter-terrorism deals, Mr Barroso added: "They [the Arabic freedom fighters] will follow their own road ... It is not up to us to tell them what to do."

Column

The opportunistic peace

This will be the most selfish act in recent economic history. It will burden future generations and by no means make the weakest member states better off.

EU mulls new system to check illegal pushbacks of migrants

The European Commission says it may a new system to monitor push backs by EU states. The announcement follows weeks of dithering by the commission, which has refrained from condemning abuse by Greek and Croat authorities, despite mounting evidence.

EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row

The economies of France, Italy and Spain will contract more then 10-percent this year, according to the latest forecast by the EU executive, as it urges member state governments to strike a deal on the budget and recovery package.

Opinion

Revealed: fossil-fuel lobbying behind EU hydrogen strategy

As with the German government – which presented its own hydrogen strategy last month – the European Commission and other EU institutions appear to be similarly intoxicated by the false promises of the gas industry.

Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recorded a video in support of Croatia's ruling party, which the EU executive said was in her "personal capacity" - and admits it was a "mistake" that this was not made clear.

Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss

The European Parliament is refusing to disclose documents on an internal debate on whether to set up e-cigarette smoking booths at its premises in Strasbourg and Brussels, posing questions on how it handles transparency on relatively minor issues.

News in Brief

  1. France and Germany warn Israel on annexation 'consequences'
  2. Shipping firms to face EU carbon regime
  3. EU to mediate between Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey
  4. EU to unveil arms-trafficking and drug proposals
  5. EU to discuss people-smuggling with African states
  6. 'Torture chamber' found in Dutch sea containers
  7. Commissioner backs under-attack Hungarian news site
  8. New French government tilts to right

Column

The opportunistic peace

This will be the most selfish act in recent economic history. It will burden future generations and by no means make the weakest member states better off.

Opinion

On toppling statues

The internationally-acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild, writes on Belgium's problems with statues, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. The opportunistic peace
  2. EU mulls new system to check illegal pushbacks of migrants
  3. EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row
  4. Revealed: fossil-fuel lobbying behind EU hydrogen strategy
  5. Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video
  6. Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss
  7. Belarus: Inside Lukashenko’s crackdown on independent voices
  8. The rationale behind US troop withdrawals from Germany

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us