In class the other day, we ended with talk about the EU's relationship with MENA states. In particular, we ta;ked about the EuroMed program; how the EU would offer economic and other incentives to MENA states in order for them to reform their economy and government to be more compatible (not the best word) with the EU. At first, I made a point how MENA states could just take the incentives and not change anything about their country. I didn't clarify in class that I was mainly talking about the oil rich Gulf states. I thought this way because Europe needs oil coming from the region so the Gulf states, not Europe, really has the leverage. However, this situation does not apply to countries such as Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, and others who do not have oil resources. I started to think, who really has the leverage in this relationship? My conclusion was that Europe does after all.
Europe has the very important aspect of soft power with the MENA states. EU states have given aid and other support to MENA states in multiple forms. Such forms of aid have been culturally, like providing leadership training, helping women, and providing education. In addition, a majority of the youth in MENA states are culturally in sync with Europe. Fashion, music, food are just to name a few things MENA youth and Europe's youth have in common. There is no doubt this relationship will be important in the future. Though some MENA states may have oil, Europe has popular culture, and certainly the money to back it up.