The EU and its Neighbours: Predictions for 2015

Written by | Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Steven Blockmans (The Centre for European Policy Studies)

To forecast the events of 2015 in the area of international relations may prove rather difficult. For example, 2 years ago, who could have predicted the events in Ukraine or Middle East? However, it is still possible to predict the crucial moments of EU foreign policy when one bases the assessment on accessible information such as the calendar of Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

In January, the EU had to react to the newly created Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which comprises Russia and the former states of Soviet Union. The EEU does not hide high ambitions and could potentially jeopardize the Eastern Partnership – a part of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). In March, a proposal for an agreement upon the reduction of military exploitation of nuclear energy by Iran is expected. Moreover, Israel is preparing for early parliamentary elections which could play a key role in future negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Towards the end of March, the annual ENP package is due to be published, incorporating the outline of a future reform which should be implemented later in the fall and should reflect significant changes in Ukraine and the Middle East. In addition, the May summit of Eastern Partnership in Latvian capital Riga should also contribute to the future ENP strategy. Also, the EU enlargement is still out of question, thus no new partner states will be accepted. Finally, the European Council will discuss the Russian aggression towards its western neighbor during the June summit whose outcome should include a reform of the Common Foreign and Security Policy as well.

Along with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in June, a final colloquium Helsinki +40 will be organized by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. The colloquium will evaluate the expediency of the project started back in 1975 and discuss future developments in the security arena in Europe. It is quite unlikely that an agreement on the ‘level 3’ sanctions against Russia will be reached among the 28 Member States with regard to the unfavorable economic situation in many EU countries.

With regard to the condition of democracy in Macedonia, the European Commission will probably not recommend to open accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav republic. Along the same lines, the European Council will encourage the Commission to freeze the negotiations with Turkey. In December, a new arrangement of the European External Action Service, proposed by Federica Mogherini, will be approved. In addition, the European Council will adopt a new strategic document concerning European security, the European Global Strategy.

(The study can be downloaded here)

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