Regent’s Report

Regent’s University London has launched its third ‘Regent’s Report’ – titled ‘Europe’s Neighbours: from Morocco to Moscow,’ featuring the work of 20 specialist contributors who have provided chapters on relations between the EU and its neighbouring countries.

Regent’s University London Chancellor, Professor John Drew, explains:

“This report can make for uncomfortable reading. Violence, corruption, incompetence, mismanagement and external meddling have created unstable states and situations that pose enormous problems for the EU.

“Strong government can offer stability, but often at the cost of respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The collapse of the governments in countries such as Syria and Libya can lead to a failed state, where such rights have no chance of flourishing at all.

“To face the current challenges we need partners. We cannot simply reflect on what we can do for our neighbours, but with our neighbours. The independent research and thinking in this Report is a crucial first step.” 

Marking the launch of the report at Regent’s University London, four guest speakers recently debated the issues raised, offering a variety of opinions and noting that change in the UK’s relationship with its partners is part of a bigger picture requiring countries both in and outside of the EU to reassess their plans and policies. Comments from the speakers included: 

His Excellency Simon Smits, Netherlands Ambassador to the United Kingdom:

“The Netherlands has assumed the Presidency of the EU in extremely difficult circumstances, which makes the urgent necessity of European cooperation clear. Extremism and huge migratory flows are just part of a complex situation and many on the outside are looking to Europe for solutions.

“No country can overcome these problems on their own and what counts are the results we achieve in terms of spurring growth, creating jobs and delivering a forward-looking climate change policy. 

“We want a rapid implementation of migration policy, with European ministers finding common solutions, and better information exchange and cooperation between the security agencies of the EU’s 28 member countries.”

Emma Udwin, Deputy Chief of Staff of the EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn:

“The big enlargement of the EU in 2004 was arguably one of Europe’s greatest achievements in terms of bringing stability.

“What has changed significantly about the EU’s approach has been an evaluation of the aspirations of its partners. Today there is nothing remote about our neighbours. Radicalisation, unemployment, a lack of hope, and energy security interruptions all spread to us.

“The EU’s new approach is very honest. We can't achieve human rights advancement everywhere and so the overriding goal is stabilisation. We have to represent European citizens’ interests, and we would like our partners to be more prosperous – this is ‘more for more.’

“Policy in the EU has moved to keeping track of changing circumstances and talking to partners about what matters to them. We have to be realistic with those who want to work with us. For example – we want to help the Syrians with their crisis, but they have to help us with refugees.”

Graham Avery, St Antony’s College, Oxford, and European Policy Centre, Brussels:

“The EU has closer relations with Norway, Iceland and Switzerland – members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – than with any of its other neighbours.

“These countries have privileged access to the EU’s single market, and they participate in other EU policies, such as the Schengen passport-free area. This relationship is the most advanced form of European integration, other than full EU membership.”

Dr. Martyn Bond, Co-Editor of the Report and Honorary Senior Fellow of Regent’s University London:

“European leadership quality and transparency needs to be increased. All of the States are trying their best, but leaders are mired in difficulties they cannot overcome.

“In the past there has often been superficial opposition to human rights abuses. Stabilising countries, while not rocking the boat by raising individual cases has been the norm. This must be very difficult for some countries to see when they view matters as an internal security issue.

“The European response has been to put such differences into a broader framework, bringing the periphery closer to heartland, while the heartland engages more with the periphery.

“It is inevitable that those outside of the EU want more of what's inside. We should set a target of GDP for international aid globally to support exterior countries to help stabilise our ‘neighbourhood.’”