Taking the European Neighborhood Policy Beyond the Conception-Performance Gap

Written by | Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
European Values

Nicole Koenig (Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute)

The European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) has long-term problems when it comes to its performance. The objectives of this policy, such as the promotion of peace, stability and prosperity, have not been achieved during the first ten years of its existence. Instead of the originally planned circle of friends, with whom the EU would share close and peaceful relations, the EU is now rather encircled by a circle of fire.

The ENP was launched in 2004. Through economic, cultural, security and political cooperation, it should have promoted the above-mentioned peace, stability and prosperity in the EU’s sixteen neighboring countries. The EU was to cultivate individual privileged partnerships with its neighbors, all of whom based on the assumption that both partners share the same values – human rights, rule of law and market economy were among them. The ENP was originally founded on three main principles. The first one was a unified negotiation by the EU as a whole, the second was the differentiation of the partners, hence an adaptation of the partnerships to the situation of a particular country. The third one was the principle of motivation through positive incentives rather than sanctions.

However, the ENP is generally perceived as a failure. By 2014, ten of the countries covered by this policy were hit by a crisis or a direct military conflict. A review of the ENP’s results during the last ten years has shown that the problem occurred mainly with the implementation of relevant policies. The whole system stands on the concepts and assumptions, which proved to be misleading and inaccurate. One of them is, for example, a way too Eurocentric view of the whole issue. This, together with the increasing number of crises, has led to such a situation that the EU’s security and stability are threatened.

In response to the ENP’s disappointing results, a revision of the policy was adopted in 2015. It is more pragmatic and realistic and conscious of the limits of European influence. The main priority for the next three to five years is given to the stability of the European neighborhood. However, the new version of the ENP has also its drawbacks. The main principles are vaguely explained and it also lacks a clearer geopolitical vision, including how to develop relations between the EU and Russia. Some new areas of operation, such as migration and security, form already part of other policy frameworks, which can in turn exacerbate the already existing problem of the ENP’s coherence. As the neighborhood policy extends to other areas of foreign policy, this raises the question of whether the Union needs the ENP to cover the relations with its neighbors at all.

(The study can be downloaded here:http://www.delorsinstitute.eu/011-22657-Taking-the-ENP-beyond-the-conception-performance-gap.html)

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