chapter  6
38 Pages

The Gradual Europeanization of North Africa: From “Arab Socialism” to a “Stake in EU’s Internal Market”

ByWolfgang Zank

The relationships between the North African and the European countries have not always been easy. Bitter legacies of colonialism have left their mark, and after independence many North African politicians worked for schemes of Arab or African unification, often in an “anti-imperialist” perspective. In the 1950s and 1960s, for leaders such as Egypt’s Gamal Ab’dal Nasser1 or Algeria’s Ahmed BenBella the Soviet Union appeared to be an almost “natural” ally. In the following decades, various Islamic movements have gained strength, and their programs of asserting a cultural “authenticity” have been in contrast, if not outright opposition to the West. Nonetheless the countries of Northern Africa have experienced a process of Europeanization. By this term I understand a development which makes their societies increasingly similar to the models in place in the European Union, and which also leads to an increasingly close cooperation between the EU countries and North Africa. Already by now the cooperation across the Mediterranean Sea is far more developed than patterns of Pan-African, Pan-Arab, Pan-Maghreb, or Pan-Islamic cooperation. Europeanization does not exclude, say, more Pan-African cooperation. Pan-African arrangements will presumably remain less intense and less binding, and they will proceed only, if constructed in a way which is compatible with Europeanization.