In a position paper released on November 29, Majalat examines the European Union’s response to the Lebanese uprisings and proposes policy recommendations for reform that should be promoted in the framework of the EU- Southern Neighborhood partnership and EU- Lebanon partnership.
Lebanon has witnessed, since 17 October 2019, first of kind countrywide non-sectarian protests in response to the government’s failure to find solutions to a multidimensional crisis that has been facing the country for years. The protests were triggered by the announcement of the new tax on WhatsApp and other call internet services, accompanied by a looming currency crisis and a shortage in gaz, fuel and wheat supplies. In the light of the protests, the government has presented a list of reforms that was rejected by the citizens as it doesn’t present actual remedial solutions and there is a lack of trust in the ruling class and its practices and policies that lead to this deteriorated situation. Consequently, the protesters have asked the dissolution of the current government and the nomination of independent and expert representatives – outside the ruling parties and their affiliations- in order to adopt policies assuring socioeconomic and political rights of the Lebanese citizens and assure transparency mechanisms in their implementation and monitoring. Due to continuous protests and road blockages, the prime minister has resigned on the 29th of October 2019.
The European Union has declared that Lebanon is in need for the implementation of “much needed and long awaited structural and transformative reforms” and affirmed its commitment to the stability of the country and the region, in addition to expressing its “support to the reform objectives that Prime Minister Hariri and the Government have outlined”.
However, Majalat finds that « this commitment should not be at the expense of the presentation of policy alternatives that promote rights based sustainable development. Also, the position withheld by the Union does not contribute to the achievement of the socioeconomic demands of the Lebanese citizens and is not aligned with the efforts made by this partner to maintain a proper dialogue with the Lebanese civil society ».