From neglect to selective engagement: The EU approach to rural development in the Arab Mediterranean after the Arab uprisings

2018-04-10T10:08:28Z (GMT) by Christos Kourtelis
After the Arab uprisings, the EU designed a new regional programme for the development of the agricultural sector of the European Neighbourhood Policy partners. The European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) is based on an integrated logic for rural development. This new conceptual framework advocates multi-sectoral planning and the active participation of local actors in the decision-making process in order to promote inclusive growth and to support small and medium enterprises. This approach aims to contribute to the security and stability of the rural areas of the Arab Mediterranean partners. This paper analyses ENPARD and it argues that the inclusion of new actors in the design of the programme has partially challenged established views of policy-makers within the EU. However, EU engagement in this area is still determined by a hierarchical mode that puts local actors at the bottom of the decision-making process and it is driven by a technocratic ratchet mechanism that fits new information into existing cognitive frames. Despite some positive changes in national policies, the paper claims that this type of technocratic engineering does not change social relations in rural areas and it undermines the success of the programme.