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Shaping the future: your vote, your neighbourhood

The European Parliament (EP) elections significantly influence the European Union's (EU) future and its relationships with neighbouring countries. This article explores the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and its potential evolution based on the forthcoming EP elections, particularly in the southern region. Your vote is crucial in determining the EU's direction and influencing policies like the ENP, which promotes cooperation and stability, making your participation a civic duty to shape a positive trajectory for the EU and its neighbours.

Current state of the ENP–A bridge for stability and prosperity

The ENP fosters cooperation between the EU and its eastern and southern neighbours to enhance stability, prosperity, and security. The EP plays a pivotal role in shaping the ENP by approving budgets, scrutinising implementation, and proposing amendments guiding the policy's trajectory, strengthening the EU's foreign policy through regional stability and collaboration.

Key issues at stake in the EP elections

As voters head to the polls, crucial ENP issues such as migration, security threats, and economic development are on the table. Additionally, the EP's focus on human rights and democratic values could lead to stricter conditions for aid provision, potentially reshaping the ENP's priorities based on the new Parliament's political makeup.

  • Addressing shared challenges: The Mediterranean Crisis epitomises one of the most pressing challenges for the EU and its southern neighbours – irregular migration, especially across the Mediterranean Sea. Managing this crisis involves balancing humanitarian concerns with security considerations, putting pressure on countries like Italy, Greece, and Spain while affecting transit nations like Morocco and Tunisia.
  • Security threats: Terrorism and instability pose significant challenges to the EU and its southern neighbours, particularly in regions like the Sahel. The rise of extremist groups threatens regional stability and European security, necessitating initiatives like the Sahel Alliance to address these interconnected security challenges.
  • Economic development: Uneven economic development across the EU's southern neighbourhood exacerbates migration pressures and contributes to instability. High youth unemployment rates in countries like Tunisia and Egypt fuel discontent and social unrest, underscoring the need for economic growth and job creation to address the root causes of instability.
  • Tailoring approach: Customising the ENP to each neighbouring country's distinct situation is a hallmark of the current Parliament. The new Parliament may advocate for targeted assistance and stricter such as protecting ethnic minorities' conditionality and linking aid to human rights and democratic reforms.

Possible shifts based on political leanings:

  • Green focus: Focusing on environmental sustainability may lead to prioritising green projects in the southern region as diminishing fresh water available for North African countries and the abundance of sand desert that can be used to harness solar energy, potentially diverting resources from security or economic development initiatives.
  • Security focus: Emphasising security concerns could lead to prioritising counter-terrorism cooperation and border management, especially since ISIS was reallocated to African nations. France withdrew its forces from many African countries and was immediately replaced by the formerly known Vagnar group, which could spark proxy wars, possibly at the expense of other priorities.
  • Enlargement aspirations: A more open Parliament may encourage deeper cooperation with southern neighbours, although balancing enlargement goals with governance reforms is crucial.


The upcoming EP elections hold the potential to shape the ENP's direction, with diverse political ideologies shaping priorities. Recognising trade-offs between competing interests like security and sustainability is essential for policymakers to develop balanced strategies advancing stability, prosperity, and cooperation in the EU's southern neighbourhood.

Let's talk! –Your vote, your neighbourhood's future

The upcoming EP elections offer an opportunity for voters to shape the EU's future, including its relationship with its southern neighbours. By understanding potential changes to the ENP and the role of research in informing these changes, you can cast your vote with a clear vision for a more stable, prosperous, and secure neighbourhood for Europe. I urge you to actively engage in the democratic process by voting in the EP elections and staying informed about policies impacting our communities.

  • Visit the portal of the European Parliament to learn more about your region's EP elections and candidates.
  • Explore the websites of NGOs and think tanks working on EU neighbourhood issues for in-depth analysis and diverse viewpoints.

Abbas Sibai is a public policy advocate, implementation entrepreneur, and community development practitioner with over 15 years of experience using participatory action and inclusive policy design in the EURO Mediterranean region, the UK, the USA, and Russia. 

All opinions expressed in the blog section are solely of the authors.