The European Union’s Epic Conceptualisations of the Southern Neighbourhood: A Narratological Take on the Mediterranean Story

  • Wolfgang MühlbergerEmail author
Part of the Perspectives on Development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region book series (PDMENA)


The European Union makes use of its foundational meta-narrative to propose an ideal type of political order to the outside world that is based on intergovernmentalism and the devolution of sovereignty. In the regional context of the Middle East and North Africa, facing a mixed reception of this grand récit, on the rhetorical level its external action is moulded into geopolitical concepts such ‘neighbourhood’, ‘partnership’ and the ‘Mediterranean’. These terms simultaneously address issues such as proximity, vicinity and periphery, frame the quality of an asymmetric relationship and, in general, express a metaphorical understanding of the region. Yet these three paradigms and their respective discourses remain disjointed, lacking the elaborate plot characteristics of a coherent foreign-policy narrative. Therefore, the epic grand narrative of the Union’s inception, expansion and integration remains the sole distinct story for external projection in the EU’s dealings with the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean.


European Union Foreign policy Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEM) Regional order Political narratives 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Finnish Institute of International AffairsHelsinkiFinland

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