The 2019 European Commission recognizes a need to learn the language of power and geopolitics for the EU to become a stronger player in a contested world. Yet the EU experiences difficulties in navigating the geopolitical scene in its immediate neighbourhood, the Middle East and North Africa, characterized by fast-changing alliances among international and regional powers but also a wide array of non-state and hybrid actors. Policy recommendations urge the EU to include the latter in its foreign policy calculus. This article investigates how the EU accounts for a specific set of actors by exploring its foreign policy discourse. Specifically, it analyses how two hybrid actors, Hamas and Hezbollah, are discussed within the European Parliament, Commission and Council. It is argued that internal contestation over the terrorist nature of these actors poses challenges for the EU to join the geopolitical game in its Southern neighbourhood.

Sharon Lecocq (2020) EU foreign policy and hybrid actors in the Middle East: ready for geopolitical contestation?, Global Affairs, 6:4-5, 363-380, DOI: 10.1080/23340460.2021.1872401