Lebanon has recently experienced waves of protests (2005, 2015, 2019) dominated by demands for more social and ecological justice as well as appropriate public services. EU policies, however, are perceived in Lebanon as rather removed from this local reality. This is showcased for three key issues related to democracy and human rights in Lebanon, namely conflict, migration, and gender. Going more into depth – based on extensive interviews held in Lebanon with representatives from labour, women’s rights, youth, Islamic organizations, rural development, policy making and new social movements in 2018 – it is revealed that the EU’s presence is not only more invisible than that of other powers (such as the Gulf states, the US, or Russia), but also of its own Member States. Furthermore, its presence is perceived as changing, specifically because of its migration policies. Directly connected to this, its practices are frequently described as divisive, technocratic, unresponsive to local needs, civilizing, and close to the government.