Towards a new geopolitical order in the South and East Mediterranean region

Specific challenge

For several years, the political landscape of the South and East Mediterranean countries (SEMCs) has been evolving, affecting the geopolitical order of the whole SEMCs and Middle East area. Regimes that had been established for many decades in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were overthrown while other political destabilisations and conflicts arose in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. Strong tensions exist between the political establishment and forces that emerged in these processes of transformation. The SEMCs and Middle East region is often considered as one entity while each country and region has its own reality social and cultural history and values, political formations, powerful bodies – sometimes interconnected with neighbours or other regional powers in the area – influence the political situation on the internal and external scene. The political transformations that the region is facing, from war, conflict, revolution or transition, have also major impacts on the local population.

This topic aims at better understanding these different realities and how they have developed over time in order to assess the complex developments in the region. The future of the area will have significant implications both on the regional and international scenes, as well as on the relationship between Europe and the South and East Mediterranean countries. The current and future role of the EU in the Middle East will also have to be investigated.


Research should contribute to enhance knowledge on SEMCs and the Middle East area in assessing the key factors that affect the former and new leaderships and analysing the main political dynamics of the region in the broader sense of the term (including adjacent regions). It should identify the interconnections between the different countries at the geostrategic level.

Research should assess the role of internal and external actors: political bodies, religious factions, communities, elites and minorities but also the role of other players (Gulf countries, China or Russia) in the geopolitical game over time. In order to better understand interrelations of social, cultural, religious, gender and political factors and developments in the region, research should draw on a multitude of disciplinary perspectives including, for instance, sociological, historical, economic and anthropological research. Specific attention should be paid to the role of religions (Sunnis and Shias) and their influence on political factions (such as Wahhabis, Salafis, Islamic movements, Hamas, Hezbollah and Muslim Brotherhood) as well as their use of various media. Their political influence at the country, regional and international levels should be investigated. The current situation and the future of ethnical or religious minorities (Christian minorities, role of different tribes, Kurds, Druzes, Alaouites,…) in the SEMCs and Middle East should also be explored.

Research should look at the potential risk of destabilisation of the region and the effects on the population both at national and macro-regional levels (especially studying the question of refugees, migration and relocation as well as the state of women’s rights). The impact of diverse and rapidly changing migratory patterns from, to and through these countries should be analysed from a geo-political perspective, both in terms of regional cooperation as well as with regards to SEMCs relations with EU countries. Research will also identify the role of civil society and the existing cleavages or tensions that may emerge between different groups of the population (such as current and future elites but also the role of both rural and urban citizens and of gender relations) in the geopolitical and political process. Research should also build scenarios about potential developments and futures in the area over the 20 years.

Broad participation of international partners from the Mediterranean region and the Middle East in proposals submitted to this call is strongly encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 1.5 and 2.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact

Research is expected to advance knowledge on the geostrategic and geopolitical developments in the SEMCs and in the Middle East. It will focus on the existing and emerging social, cultural, political, gender and religious factors that affect the region. The topic should also contribute to better understanding of the current and future role of the EU in the region.

Application date
Social sciences : International Relations, Political science