The MEDRESET Project was unique in being an EU initiative that sought a non-Eurocentric approach. As a researcher within the project, I appreciated the approach, the structure of the questions, and the honestly that was expected and valued. The research from all participating countries generated some results that were not often spoken about so openly in research studies. For example, the Lebanese result of a strong criticism against Schengen visa policies that strongly effect and deter migration and mobility. Indeed, the MEDRESET Project was itself affected by this, as is reflected in the policy brief, as southern Mediterranean partners experienced greater difficulty in traveling for the various project needs.
The recommendation of a research foundation for the Mediterranean is one of great interest. Given the events at sea in recent years and that are still ongoing, which have established the sea as a border, research on the region is more important and timelier than ever. Supporting research projects by regional researchers that focus on a non-Eurocentric approach would boost the quality and impact of research being produced about the Mediterranean.
The proposal of a history-focused project on Europe’s colonial past in the region and its impact today is extremely relevant. The various European countries that took part in colonial projects across the Mediterranean can provide access to and publication of archival materials that detail the internal discussion and plans for the projects. These documents should be easily available in a digital format and across institutions of learning in the colonized countries. It is important for residents of the former colonies to have access to such documents and those working within relevant fields to use the materials to expand their research, knowledge, and publications. Such a project would boost and spur national discussions on the regional legacies of colonialism.
Finally, as suggested in the policy brief, indeed the EU should shift its policies towards the region to have a human security perspective, not an EU and anti-terrorism perspective. A shift in policy perspective would result in overall better regional perceptions of the EU, and most importantly, save lives. As found in the Lebanon study on perspectives by various stakeholders on EU-Lebanon relations, participants did not hold a high view of EU policies and saw them as self-interested and focused on self-protection. A shift in policies would thus match the rhetoric that is often heard from the EU in regard to an interest in the well being of people in the region.
MEDRESET is a consortium of research and academic institutions focusing on different disciplines from the Mediterranean region to develop alternative visions for a new Mediterranean partnership and corresponding EU policies. It aims at designing an inclusive, flexible, and responsive future role for the EU in the region based on the multiple perspectives of local and bottom-up actors.