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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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Preface (Gisela Baumgratz / Khaled Chaabane / Werner Ruf / Wilfried Telkämper)

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Gisela Baumgratz, Khaled Chaabane, Werner Ruf, Wilfried Telkämper


One year after the beginning of the negotiations on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) between Tunisia and the European Union at October 13, 2015 we are very glad to present a publication, aimed at contributing, thanks to the critical analysis of European and North-African researchers, to intensify scientific cooperation between Europe and North-Africa in the crucial field of economics. We would like to express our gratitude to the authors, men and women, who accepted to share their long standing critical expertise in the field of the neoliberal globalization of economy and its negative impact on the economies of the Southern countries by writing articles for the present publication, deemed to mark a new stage of common research between experts from the North and the South aiming at fostering critical thinking in the domain of neoliberal economy and free trade. We hope that this publication which is part of a vaster program of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Tunis, directed by Khaled Chaabane, will contribute to further exchange of perspectives between the North and the South and shows, by referring to the Tunisian, Algerian and Moroccan examples, that different historical, political and economic constellations provoke different reactions to the EU’s propositions for cooperation. Nevertheless, the history of the relationship between these North African countries and the EU reveals so many similarities that it seems to be more than useful to intensify cooperation between the Southern Mediterranean countries.

By an international conference from 10 to 12 October 2015 with a range of eminent economists from both sides of the Mediterranean in Tunis, the organizers intended to assist political actors, trade-unionists and activists of the civil society by sharpening their critical argumentation in view of the negotiations on the free trade agreement between Tunisia and the EU which were to start by October 13. The publication entitled: “Development by free trade?” however, goes far beyond the North-African context, taking the history and the evolution of the economic neoliberalism within the globalization into account and examining the different significations of the notion of development within different economic approaches. Far away from being merely “technical” agreements, as members of the European commission tend to advance, these free trade agreements are part of a ← 11 | 12 → world vision: The free trade ideology corresponds to a new concept of domination of the global South by the global North which a number of critical researchers associate with the concept of neo-colonialism.

We would like to thank all those whose efforts made sure that this book could come out. This is especially true for professor Habib Mellakh from Manouba University whose propositions strongly contributed to the stylistic revision of the French articles. To end with we would like to express our gratitude for the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s support and to congratulate the team in Tunis for its commitment.

September 2016