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Liberals call for EU Marshall Plan for new Arab democracies


01 Mar 2011


Global Europe

Following a weekend visit to Cairo, Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE group leader), Edward McMillan-Scott (Lib Dem, UK) and Hans Van Baalen (VVD, Netherlands and President of Liberal International) are urging the European Union to develop a comprehensive action plan for support and investment in North Africa as a concrete way to bolster support for the new democracy movements spreading across the region.

"The EU must move quickly to offer a major package of measures, backed up by significant financial support measured in billions rather than millions of euros, similar to the Marshall Plan that got Europe back on its feet after the Second World War, or the support offered to Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s once they had shaken off the yoke of communism," said Verhofstadt.

"We cannot afford to be absent at this critical juncture. Our entire neighbourhood policy needs to be recast in the light of recent events. The young people of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have risked their lives in the hope of a better future. It is Europe's moral duty to help them consolidate their democratic revolution, stabilise the political landscape and offer opportunity of jobs and prosperity in the rebuilding of their economies, including through the further opening up of Europe's market to exports from the region."

"In the short term, the EU must also mobilise its humanitarian assistance to respond to the needs of migrants fleeing the violence in Libya."

Edward McMillan-Scott, European Parliament Vice President for democracy and human rights and a veteran observer of Egyptian politics did not underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead nor the historic moment in the region's history:

"Europe must be prepared to offer all the political and economic support it can muster through a comprehensive engagement to the newly emerging democracies in the southern Mediterranean and offer assistance, where required, for the transition process where the foundations of a pluralist democracy must be established that stands the test of time. In the short term, national transition councils must prepare the reforms necessary to ensure free and fair elections. The European Parliament should also offer what assistance it can in this regard."

ALDE also welcomed the decision of the UN Security Council, for the first time in its history, not only to agree a series of restrictive sanctions on Libya but also the prospect of prosecution at the International Criminal Court in the Hague for Gaddafi and other members of his regime for crimes against humanity.

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