Some elements of EU assistance to the countries of MENA have become more politicized in recent years. This is largely because sharper differences of opinion have emerged over EU funds being used to limit migration and for security aims. Contestation has intensified horizontally between different EU institutions and European governments. However, this politicization varies across different policy areas and different parts of the MENA region, and in some instances remains relatively muted. After outlining the general increase in salience and wider institutional engagement; we then contrast this with the more measured increase in the third dimension of politicization, namely polarization over the EU’s MENA aid policies. We offer three examples of the way that internal policy‐making dynamics have softened polarization and discuss implications for the broader analysis of EU foreign and security policy. We conclude that different kinds of dynamics both drive and limit politicization within the EU’s external policies.


Youngs, R., and Zihnioğlu, Ö. (2021) EU Aid Policy in the Middle East and North Africa: Politicization and its Limits. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 59: 126142.