Ten years into the Arab uprisings, how is the EU perceived in the Mediterranean region in terms of its democracy and human rights agenda? Based on a systematic inquiry into images of EU presence and practices through 144 recursive multi-stakeholder consultations with mainly civil society and grassroots actors in Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt and Europe, we found that the EU presence is described as invisible, incoherent, preferable to other powers, ambivalent, unresponsive, ineffective, divisive, and even neocolonial. Its practices appear as depoliticizing, securitizing, and technocratic. While it is not seen as a model in the region, no new model is emerging. However, ideas for alternatives exist, namely embracing the local struggle for democracy, taking account of human security needs on all shores of the Mediterranean, and investing into a new two-way relationship where all voices matter equally.