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date: 12 December 2019

Summary and Keywords

The European Union (EU), following its 2004 big bang enlargement toward the central and eastern European countries Cyprus and Malta found itself facing a new group of neighboring countries (i.e., new borders). In response, the EU devised a new policy, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), adopted in 2004, which encompasses two different geographical regions for the EU’s 16 neighbors: Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus in the East and Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, and Tunisia in the South Mediterranean. The ENP aimed to promote political and economic transformation in the EU’s periphery and stabilize the European borders with its key instruments. To do so, Association Agreements together with Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements, Action Plans, Partnership Priorities, and Single Support Frameworks were adopted. The ENP was revised twice, in 2011 and in 2015, to respond to the ongoing challenges that the EU and its neighboring countries face.

The ENP’s evolution included multicountry, regional plans, the Union for the Mediterranean and the Eastern Partnership, adopted in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The ENP’s effectiveness could be assessed in terms of its ability to stabilize the EU’s neighbouring countries, as well as in promoting political, economic, and governance-related reforms. The ENP’s revisions with the “more for more/less for principle” in 2011 and a stronger EU presence in the region in 2015 with the emphasis on building “resilience” rather than diffusion of European norms and rules were all adopted to enable the realization of its main objectives. However, the variation among the partner countries, the domestic scope conditions, and scope conditions such as the EU’s vertical and horizontal policy incoherence, coupled with the presence of other international actors, constrained the ENP’s effectiveness. The ENP as an attempt to create a “ring of friends” around the EU failed to realize its objectives, and instead the EU is surrounded now with a “ring of fire.”

Keywords: European Neighbourhood Policy, foreign policy, Eastern Partnership, Union of the Mediterranean, European Union politics

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