EU and Arab leaders pledge renewed multilateralism at Euro-Mediterranean Summit

EU and Arab leaders pledge renewed multilateralism at Euro-Mediterranean Summit

EU and Arab League heads of state will gather today for the first time at the Euro-Mediterranean Summit in Egypt.

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Photo: Reuters

EU and Arab League heads of state will gather today for the first time at the Euro-Mediterranean Summit in Egypt.

While slotted to be an affirmation of their cooperation on a host of mutual interests, the leadup to the summit has instead exposed Europe’s growing inability to present a unified front to the Arab Bloc. Foreign ministers charged with negotiating an agenda for the upcoming summit earlier this month were unable to agree on a joint political declaration, with issues like migration, security and trade being the primary sticking points.

Arab leaders have also encountered obstacles in balancing short-term interests, as their delegation is viewed as too unpopular and divided to achieve any genuine agreement. While Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will not attend, the League is struggling to manage Iran’s growing influence in the Arab bloc, particularly as Hezbollah gains more cabinet seats in the Lebanese government.

Indeed, today’s summit is more symbolic than substantive. Both sides will likely pledge a commitment to multilateralism and further cooperation on long-term issues of trade, migration and regional security. But, with little genuine improvement on the significant issues driving instability in the region, the summit may instead symbolise internal conflicts between these two blocs.

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