A partnership of equals? ‘Deeper’ economic integration between the EU and Northern Africa

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Strengthening ties with Africa has become a top priority for the current geopolitical European Commission. The focus on Africa is not new: Since 2004, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has gradually developed a framework for political dialogue and reforms in Northern African countries, which form part of the Southern Neighbourhood. The conclusion of association agreements and free trade agreements (FTAs) at the end of the previous century brought these countries closer to the European Union (EU) in commercial terms. In February 2021, the EU launched a renewed agenda for the South Mediterranean with a view to integrating these economies further to the EU edifice. Against this backdrop, this Article discusses how economic integration manifests itself in the region. It further pinpoints the economic fundamentals and political realities that will shape further economic integration between the EU and Northern Africa. A central element of EU’s renewed strategy in the region is the conclusion of deep and comprehensive free trade agreements (DCFTAs) with Northern African countries. It is argued that the conclusion of such agreements will constitute a litmus test for EU’s new assertive approach in trade matters in line with the newly adopted concept of open strategic autonomy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-530
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Foreign Affairs Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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