chapter  1
Security, power or profit? The economic diplomacy of the US and the EU in North Africa
ByPatrick Holden
Pages 22

Both the United States government and the European Union have rhetorically harnessed their

economic and commercial policies towards North Africa to their broader security agendas.

From the Euro-American point of view economic reform is seen as beneficial to development,

which should in turn reduce support for domestic and transnational extremism. Regime leaders

in North Africa also explicitly link development with security and stability. In fact the causal

chain here is more complex than often supposed; the equating of ‘development’ with security

and stability is problematic and equating reform with development is even more problematic.1

Yet ‘transformational development’ (USAID 2004a, p. 5) is an objective that, along with democ-

racy promotion, underpins the broader political agenda of the Americans and the Europeans

towards the region. Evaluating their efforts in this department is challenging because, as demon-

strated in this article, there are clearly other concerns beyond security. This paper evaluates these

policies in terms of the development and security objectives but also adopts a more critical

perspective. The focus is on four countries within North Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and

Tunisia. Although this region is not treated discretely by either of these powers (the US has a

‘Middle East’ and the Europeans a ‘Mediterranean’ policy), North Africa is a legitimate geo-

economic and geopolitical entity in its own right which does not have to be subsumed into

broader categories. Egypt is obviously a central player in the broader region but it still has an

African/North African identity and, along with the other countries studied, it can be argued that its primary security challenges are domestic (in contrast with those closer to Israel and

Iraq). Libya, Mauritania and Sudan are not analysed as they are not engaged with the instruments

in question: this is not intended as a deeper statement of political geography.