Europe and the Arab Spring

EU foreign policy

As well as internal issues, MEPs have spent much of the last few months focusing on events across the Mediterranean, with countries from Tunisia to Syria facing revolutions. Although the European Parliament has very limited powers in foreign affairs, a number of resolutions were passed urging an immediate end to the violence and a smooth transfer to democracy.

The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Baroness Ashton was a regular visitor to Strasbourg, but didn’t always get a warm welcome. In March she was criticised by MEPs from the liberal and green groups for not formally recognising the Libyan opposition Transitional National Council, whilst the Parliament as a whole was split over the need for military action.

However much of the criticism was reserved for member states -British Labour MEP Richard Howitt attacked governments for cosying up to Gadaffi in the past, and reminded his colleagues that the EU had been on the verge of signing a trade agreement with Libya before the conflict broke out.

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