Within the framework of its Neighbourhood Policy, "the EU has made democracy a condition for aid to Arab countries," headlines the daily El País. On 25 May, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, and the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, presented the new strategyfor the 16 countries that are the European Union’s neighbours on its eastern and southern borders. Of the seven billion euros of aid to be distributed between now and 2013, five billion has been earmarked for countries on the southern shores of the Mediterranean.

Until now, points out El País, in its approach to countries like Egypt and Tunisia "the EU strategy has been based on the principle of ‘security in exchange for millions of euros.’” The parameters that have now been announced -- free elections, freedom of speech in the press, an independent judiciary, the fight against corruption, and democratic control of security and armed forces -- will enable Europe to measure the level of democracy in these countries. The Madrid daily notes that the plan unveiled by the European diplomacy chief also includes measures for the control of migration flows. However, it points out that "Ashton has denied that the plan offers money to prevent immigration."