Study cover: Strengthening EU-Southern Neighborhood Relations: The Imperative of Equal Partnerships in the Green Energy Transition. Map of Europe and Northern Africa and the Middle East, with relevant keywords.

Europe and its neighbours: leveraging the potential of green energy production

Economic, social and political relations between Europe and its southern neighbourhood are important - even though the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is torn apart by wars and conflicts. In addition, the entire region around the Mediterranean is severely affected by climate change, with heat waves and water shortages affecting societies. Joint green energy production projects can increase trans-Mediterranean trade potential, as most countries are on a path of economic growth despite the adverse local conditions. 

Foto Christian Hanelt
Christian Hanelt
Senior Expert Europe, Neighbourhood and the Middle East
Foto Stefani Weiss
Stefani Weiss
Senior Expert EU Governance, Foreign and Security Policy


A new joint study by the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Program “Europe’s Future” and EMEA, the EuroMediterranean Economists Association, entitled “Strengthening EU-Southern Neighbourhood Relations - The Imperative of Equal Partnerships in the Green Energy Transition” highlights the central role of cooperation between the EU and the North African Middle Eastern region in the field of green energy as a transformative way to strengthen bilateral relations. It emphasizes the geopolitical imperative for the EU to bolster its ties with this region, in order to counter the growing influence of Russia and China. By prioritizing equitable green energy initiatives, both regions can not only reshape their energy landscapes, but also foster a partnership based on mutual respect and shared social and economic progress. 

The study advocates for an approach centered on equity ensuring that the transition to renewable energy addresses both the EU’s environmental and energy security needs while catalyzing economic development and sustainability in the Southern Neighbourhood. It highlights the importance of collaborative efforts in the areas of technology transfer, capacity building and innovative financing mechanisms to create a resilient and sustainable energy infrastructure that benefits both regions. The study's recommendations provide a roadmap for a fair and cooperative green transition. The focus is on regional interconnectivity, de-risking investment and a just and social transition. 

Rather than for example extending short-term budget support, the European Union could provide targeted funding linked to progress in the field of renewable energy development. This approach guarantees predictable export revenues for the Middle East and North Africa region and supports the decarbonization efforts of both the EU and MENA economies. In this way, green energy could become a real catalyst for EU-MENA trade relations

The study “Strengthening EU-Southern Neighbourhood Relations - The Imperative of Equal Partnerships in the Green Energy Transition” is part of a series of knowledge-based briefings, produced in the context of the Sovereign Europe project. 

The basic study “Keeping friends closer: Why the EU should address new geoconomic realities and get its neighbours back in the fold” provides a good overview of the economic, financial and social interdependencies of the European Union with all three direct neighbouring regions, the Southern Neighbourhood, Turkey with the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership- compared to the growing influence of the USA, Russia and China.