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Development by Free Trade? Développement à travers le libre-échange?

The Impact of the European Unions’ Neoliberal Agenda on the North African Countries Les enjeux de l’agenda néolibéral de l’Union européenne pour les pays de l’Afrique du Nord

Edited By Gisela Baumgratz, Khaled Chaabane, Werner Ruf and Wilfried Telkämper

One year ago the negotiations between Tunisia and the European Union about a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement (DCFTA) had started in Tunis. Experts from both sides of the Mediterranean accepted to contribute to this book in order to foster the public debate in the North-African countries by informing actors of the civil society about the risks of this new generation of free trade agreements of the EU for the respective countries and their population. In fact, by analyzing the impact of the structural adjustment programs of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria since the late 1980s followed up by the EU’s free trade policy, the authors seriously doubt about the positive effects on development and prosperity promised by the promotors of free trade. They underline, on the contrary, that it is the EU which profits from the asymmetric power-relations in order to pursue its economic and especially its security interests related to "illegal migration".

Publié un an après le début des négociations sur l’Accord de libre échange complet et approfondi (ALECA) entre la Tunisie et l’Union européenne, cet ouvrage veut contribuer au débat public dans les pays concernés et alerter les acteurs de la société civile sur les risques que comporte cette nouvelle génération des accords de libre-échange de l’UE. Les experts nord-africains et européens réunis pour débattre des enjeux de la politique économique de l’UE vis-à-vis des pays de l’Afrique du Nord mettent sérieusement en cause la promesse de développement et de prospérité du libre-échange. Analysant l’impact de cette politique entamée par la Banque mondiale et le FMI depuis les années 1980 en Tunisie, en Algérie et au Maroc et poursuivie par l’UE, ils soulignent au contraire que l’UE profite de l’asymétrie des relations de pouvoir pour poursuivre ses intérêts économiques et sécuritaires liés à la « migration illégale ».

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Structural Adjustment in Tunisia. The Crisis of Neoliberalism and the ‘Gafsa Riots’ of 2008 (Sascha Radl)


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Sascha Radl

Structural Adjustment in Tunisia

The Crisis of Neoliberalism and the ‘Gafsa Riots’ of 2008

Introduction: neoliberal structural adjustment and the Maghreb

Neoliberal theory goes back to the economists Friedrich August von Hayek and Milton Friedman. Although developed in the 1940s, its first implementation was only possible with the coup of Chile’s General Augusto Pinochet in 1973. Shortly afterwards, Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan as President of the United States (US) were confident that neoliberal restructuring could solve the problems of the economic crisis which had been haunting industrialised countries since the end of the 1960s. Precisely because the term neoliberalism is often used ambiguously, here it is defined according to the geographer David Harvey:

Neoliberalism is in the first instance a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices […] (Harvey 2007: 2).

Between the 1980s and 1990s an increasing number of states adjusted their economies in a neoliberal manner and different institutions began to spread the idea. So it became – in a Gramscian sense – a hegemonic concept not only dominating economics but also structuring perceptions within society. Meanwhile the World Bank...

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