EU Announces New Aid Initiatives to Support Democratic Transition in Middle East, North Africa

People gather at Tahrir Square to protest the Egyptian government. Photo by: Floris Van Cauwelaert / CC BY-SA

The European Commission unveiled Sept. 27 a “flagship initiative” designed to support democratic transformation, economic growth and institution building among countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

The initiative, dubbed the Partnership, Reform and Inclusive Growth, or SPRING, program will provide €350 million ($474.85 million) for efforts supporting democratic transition and sustainable economic growth and development in the region. Assistance to be provided through the initiative, which covers the years 2011 and 2012, will be tailored based on the recipient countries’ needs and priorities, with the European Commission looking to pilot the program in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan this year.

The launch of the SPRING program is one of four decisions adopted by the commission in line with its decision earlier this year to revamp the cooperation policy for North African and Middle Eastern countries. The three other decisions include:

  • A special measure providing €20 million to support job creation and social integration in some of Tunisia’s poorest areas.

  • A €22 million civil society facility designed to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations in the region and boost their role in democracy building and institutional development efforts in their countries.

  • A €66 million program set to create student and faculty exchange opportunities between European Union member states and MENA countries.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.