Reviewing the European Neighbourhood Policy: Eastern Perspectives
The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is in tatters. When launching this regional framework for its neighbors in 2004, the EU stated that its ambition was to surround itself with a “ring of friends,” a zone of well-governed, stable, and prosperous states, with whom the EU has close and cooperative ties. Little over a decade later, instead, realities in the European neighborhood resemble a veritable ring of fire, with regional challenges and pressures on Europe greater than ever before. In Europe’s East, the EU has done precious little to support the fledgling democracies of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine; it failed to prevent backsliding into fully fledged autocracies in Azerbaijan and Belarus; and it has been helpless in the face of a resurgent and revisionist Russia. South of Europe, an entire swath of countries across the Mediterranean has become disfigured by war and violence, exposed state failure, and unleashed massive migration flows. In clear acknowledgment of the serious challenges presented by the European neighborhood, and the inadequacy of its own policy, the EU recently launched a review process. Conducted jointly by the European Commission and the EU high representative for foreign and security policy, this process includes a consultation with a broad range of stakeholders both in the neighborhood and the EU itself.
None of the EU’s Eastern neighbors wishes to see the ENP discarded. Instead, all of them clearly favor its significant overhaul in a number of areas. A revised policy for Europe’s East has to have European values at its core, with an unambiguous and adamant projection of the EU’s normative model, which has brought peace, development, and democracy to large parts of Europe. The security needs of individual countries and the region as such need stronger emphasis. Serious and direct EU engagement is needed to solve existing frozen conflicts, and to address political, economic and societal vulnerabilities of individual countries. Further differentiation is needed, with added instruments that are tailored to individual neighbors instead of hitherto generalized formats.