Un premier test pour la diplomatie européenne

BRUXELLES – Il aura fallu huit ans d’âpres tractations politiques pour créer le nouveau service diplomatique de l’Union Européenne, mais son sort – et celui de son chef, Catherine Ashton – pourraient bien se décider dans les toutes prochaines semaines. L’incapacité de l’Union Européenne jusqu’à présent à répondre de manière adéquate à la crise qui s’empare du monde arabe aiguise les esprits dans les ministères des affaires étrangères à travers toute l’Europe.

Du point de vue de l’UE, les troubles qui embrasent le monde arabe ne pouvaient pas arriver à un pire moment. Le Service Européen pour l’Action Extérieure (SEAE), sensé permettre à l’UE « de parler d’une seule voix, » n’a été lancé que fin 2010 et de nombreux postes d’encadrement ne sont toujours pas attribués. Mais c’est une bien piètre excuse pour expliquer l’incapacité de l’UE à marquer la crise de son empreinte.

Les eurocrates de Bruxelles étaient les mieux placés pour savoir que le soulèvement qui balaye aujourd’hui les pays arabes devait arriver. Dans les années 90, les responsables de l’UE, sous l’impulsion de l’Espagne, de l’Italie et de la France, avaient commencé à développer une stratégie méditerranéenne pour stimuler le commerce et l’investissement dans le monde arabe. L’Europe craignait déjà que le chômage croissant des jeunes dans la région ne crée une dangereuse instabilité le long de ses frontières méridionales.

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