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Thesis (M.A.), 2001, 88 Pages
The Union's position and role: Promoter of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace and of prosperity for the region; Key player in the political and economic process (The European Union on its Middle East policy web site).
This way of portraying itself does not leave any doubt about the position and role of the European Union (EU) in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In practice, however, the EU does not appear to be very influential in the region. So far all treaties and agreements concerning the Middle East peace process have been achieved under the mediation and sometimes the intervention of the United States (U.S.). Europe has usually watched these political developments from the sidelines.
That does not mean that in this region Europe has no role at all. The EU is involved in the peace process not in the political, however, but in the economic part. Since the Oslo-agreement in 1993 European money has kept the quasi-state of the Palestinians alive and thus the EU is usually perceived as payer but not as player in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
At the moment, however, in which the situation in the Middle East is characterised by violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis and in which there is the widespread assumption that the peace process is on the brink of disaster, there are growing demands that Europe should also play a greater political role in the region. Indeed, in recent weeks Europe has appeared as a mediator between Israelis and Palestinians. In the name of Europe the German foreign minister Joschka Fischer has acted twice as a mediator between both conflict parties. Particularly the Arabs and Palestinians want the EU to get involved more strongly in the peace process. They perceive America, which is doubtlessly the most powerful actor in the conflict, as biased and more in favour of Israel and therefore they hope that Europe could be a kind of counterweight to the U.S
Against this background it has to be asked whether the European Union would be able to play a major political role so that one could speak about Europe not only as payer but also as player in the peace process?
In order to answer this question it is firstly necessary to examine the main aspects that determine the capabilities and limits of the European Union in international affairs. One of the main factors in this respect is doubtlessly the concept of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the institutional framework which is set by this concept and so the first section of chapter one will deal with this aspect. Secondly, it is important to look how the member states attitudes are towards CFSP because foreign affairs are still a vital part of their national sovereignty. Finally the third section of chapter one will look at how the relations are between Europe and America because the U.S. as a major player on the worlds stage and as the closest European ally has certainly a strong impact on European affairs.
From the European point of view the Middle East as a part of the Mediterranean region is in its direct neighbourhood and therefore of special importance. Indeed over the time Europe developed a close relationship to the countries around the Mediterranean basin. For this reason chapter two will examine the European Mediterranean policy and its links to the Middle East peace process.
As mentioned above Europe has not had a strong political role in the Middle East yet, but the involvement of the EU in the region has increased over the time and especially after the beginning of the peace process at the Madrid Conference in 1991, Europe has become important as aid donor and financial contributor of the peace process. Thus chapter three will deal with the European involvement in the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict in depth.
Furthermore it is also important for a comprehensive analysis to examine the relations in the conflict between the European Union and the other major actors. These are the United States, Israel and the Palestinians and so chapter four will investigate the relationship between the EU and these players. This chapter will especially focus on how these actors assess a stronger political role of the Europeans.
Finally the conclusion will on the one hand give an answer to the question mentioned above and on the other hand try to outline some important aspects of a future European Middle East policy.
But before going on with the analysis, it seems to be appropriate to determine the geographical region that this paper deals with the "Middle East". There is no single definition (not to speak of the right definition) of that term. For some analysts the Middle East even starts in Morocco in the West and ends in India in the East.7 This paper, however, refers to the Middle East in connection with the Arab-Israeli conflict and here, therefore, the Middle East includes only Israel with the occupied territories, the Westbank and Gaza Strip area and the surrounding countries Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
Table of Contents:
THE EUROPEAN UNION IN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS7
THE EU AS AN INTERNATIONAL ACTOR7
THE MEMBER STATES AND THE EU FOREIGN POLICY11
U.S. RELATIONS WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION14
THE MEDITERRANEAN POLICY OF THE EUROPEAN UNION17
ON THE WAY TO BARCELONA: THE EU POLICY BEFORE 199517
THE 'EURO-MEDITERRANEAN PARTNERSHIP'20
THE 'BARCELONA-PROCESS' SINCE 199522
THE ROLE OF THE EU IN THE PEACE PROCESS26
ON THE WAY TO OSLO: EUROPE'S POLICY BEFORE 199326
AFTER OSLO: EUROPE'S ROLE IN THE PEACE PROCESS SINCE 199326
RELATIONS BETWEEN INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL ACTORS42
THE U.S., EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS42
ISRAEL, EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS42
PALESTINIANS, EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS48
THE EUROPEAN UNION AS A LIMITED PLAYER57