"...the EU should send a high-level "political support team" to calm tensions in Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and other countries in the region hit by deadly civil unrest in recent days.
"The European mission ... [should] take contact with the highest levels, beginning with the authorities in Tunisia, with civil society, mayors, opposition parties, to collect information, not to give orders," he said, Italian newswires report.
"I do not think this can be dealt with by sporadic initiatives of this or that country in Europe, but only by a European initiative.""
To calm tensions, but to not give orders? The EU would have to be very clear about what it wanted to see in the region after the protests ran their course. Does it want to see a return to the status quo, or does it want to ensure a stable transition to more democracy or an accommodation of the protesters' demands? Sending in a clearly political mission without figuring out what kind of role it is to play could backfire pretty easily - what would be the reaction to the mission if the protesters failed or succeeded? Would the EU mission get some of the blame for the outcome, even if it didn't really do anything?
The EU can afford a sort of distant pro-democratic attitude from outside the region, but once it sets foot there - even if it's just dipping in its small toe - it better have a clearly thought out strategy and be able to position itself (very publically, if need be) when things change quickly. North Africa is our neighbouring region, so we should have a common position and policy regarding it, but it should be thought out at home, not created ad hoc through missions.