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Contesting 'EU as Empire' from Within? Analysing European Perceptions on EU Presence and Practices in the Mediterranean


In a context of ongoing popular resistance in the Arab world, the question of how this has affected the view of the EU’s role in the region by European stakeholders has not yet sufficiently be inquired into. How is the EU – and its presence and practices particularly – perceived within its own core, by its policymakers on one hand, and by the European civil society it also involves in its policies, on the other? Institutional stakeholders see the space the EU occupies in the Mediterranean as rather limited with other powers growing in the region. In contrast to this, resistance of European civil society to the current EU role is growing. Not only is the EU now criticized of massive human rights violation itself, specifically in the area of migration, but its whole development model is called into question, including within Europe itself. At the same time, civil society presents a strong alternative imagination of the EU as a non-colonial presence whose practices are based on a universal human rights approach with a strong focus on socio-economic rights/social justice and the inclusion of a variety of actors.