Germany and the European Neighbourhood Policy: Balancing Stability and Democracy in a Ring of Fire
In 2004, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was launched to create ‘a ring of friends’ at the external EU border. From today’s perspective, the policy has failed. The EU’s Eastern and Southern neighbourhood is destabilised by civil war, regional conflicts and terrorist networks, fuelling irregular migration to the EU and exacerbating threats from organized crime and terrorism. Like many other EU member states, Germany has come to feel the consequences of the many crises in the European neighbourhood, be they the impact of the war in Ukraine on Europe’s security order, which has revitalized the debate on German responsibility and leadership, or the huge number of refugees from the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) who hope to find asylum in Germany. Achieving an effective and efficient ENP policy that reduces security risks for Germany and the EU and improves living conditions in the ENP countries is thus at the core of German national interest. Germany’s economic and political strength, which has proved relatively resilient to the financial and economic crisis in Europe, has put the country in a default leadership position on many ENP-related aspects which it had left to EU member states like Poland, Sweden, France or Italy and the European Commission in previous years. In the recent, more politicized and crisis-driven context, Germany has engaged more visibly in the conceptional ENP review, reinforced bilateral humanitarian assistance and dialogue in the Eastern and Southern neighbourhood and, together with France, has taken on a leading position in the crisis management with Russia and Ukraine.