The Maghreb and EU Energy Policy
EU foreign policy aims to lock North African natural gas and renewable energy into the European grid and is heavily influenced by arms and corporate interests. The priority has always been EU “energy security” and interests with a view towards convergence and more harmonisation and standardisation dictated by this policy. The EU’s aggressive attempts to grab more Algerian – and to a lesser extent Tunisian – gas (be it conventional or unconventional) while ignoring the peoples’ will, and in the case of shale gas, grievances and preoccupation with their water and the environment, could be qualified as “energy colonialism,” especially in a context where the EU is pushing for further liberalisation in the energy sector. Moreover, its plans to increase renewables in its energy mix through imports from Morocco makes it complicit in green grabbing and alienating people from their lands.
Popular Resistance and Energy Democracy
In all three countries, sovereignty with regard to resources is limited and curtailed by the power of authoritarian local elites, the EU, and predatory private companies, domestic and foreign. People in the Maghreb continuously fight to regain control over their natural resources, struggle for redistributive justice and the protection of their environments, take crucial steps to achieve energy democracy, and move towards a just transition, away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. It is in this context that we need to understand the huge protests at the end of 2015 by people in Tangier, Morocco against Amendis, a private energy provider – protests expressing their discontent with the privatisation of their energy systems. Similarly, the Unemployed Movement and the anti-fracking uprising in the Algerian oil- and gas-rich Sahara, as well as the insurrection of people in the
Kerkennah archipelago in Tunisia, are reflections of public outrage at the fossil capitalism dispossessing them that illustrate their yearning for more sovereignty and democracy.