Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for March 3rd, 2011

Nick Clegg, the EU and North Africa

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 3rd March, 2011

Speaking at Britain’s Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urged the EU to rise to the challenge of the dramatic political change taking place in North Africa. He is correct that Europe needs to rethink radically its approach towards the region. He said that what is happening in ‘Europe’s backyard’ is a defining moment for the EU as much as for the North African region; this is a ‘precious moment of opportunity’ for North Africa: ‘precious because it is the people, especially the young people, who are speaking up, and they are doing so for the most part peacefully and with dignity.’ A new form of partnership across the Mediterranean does indeed now need to be forged. The EU’s High Representative for External Affairs, Catherine Ashton, did go promptly to Cairo after the Egyptian Revolution brought down Hosni Mubarak and it is important that the EU puts together and promotes quickly a united policy towards North Africa. Nick Clegg’s speech was a useful clarion call in that respect. But predictably it received immediate criticism from Eurosceptic Conservatives who froth at the mouth whenever the EU is mentioned. They are wrong and should be slapped down by David Cameron. I agree with Nick: this is a defining moment for the EU and we must not flunk it.

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