Ashton wants billions of euros to aid North Africa

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, Feburary 21, 2011.

From Catherine Ashton, the International Herald Tribune:  Sometimes the toughest question in world politics is: “And then what?” It is the question I shall be asking — and starting to answer — at Saturday’s summit in Paris to discuss Libya.

With Libya, success means not just protecting civilians in the days ahead, or even securing the end of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s regime. Success requires a strategy for what we do afterwards. I intend to focus my discussions on how we rise to that challenge.

We know in principle what needs to be done to lay the foundations of deep democracy — the kind that lasts and does not get blown away. We need the rule of law, administered by honest police forces and independent judges. We need national and local government to be efficient and transparent. We need enforceable property rights, freedom of speech and free trade unions. Above all, we need prosperity to spread fast enough and wide enough for the whole society to feel it has a stake in democratic reform. …

I want Europe to contribute billions of euros to develop the economies of Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. Part of this will come from the E.U.’s own funds; I hope E.U. member states and parliamentarians will join with me in seeking the rest from the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Earlier this week I met Egypt’s planning minister, Fayza Aboulnaga. She told me that her most urgent need was to build one million more houses. I want Europe, working with others, to help her do so — and to help fund infrastructure projects across in Tunisia and post-Qaddafi Libya, too. We also have the resources, expertise and determination to help build the institutions of a healthy civil society, and have already started discussing specific projects with the new governments in Tunis and Cairo. And we can help to arrange and oversee free elections.

Catherine Ashton is high representative for foreign affairs and security policy of the European Union. (photo: Getty)

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