The ENP’s Strategic Conception and Design Overstretching the Enlargement Template?
Until very recently, the EU’s relationship with its immediate neighbourhood was mainly framed by its enlargement and pre-accession policies. So far, enlargement has not only helped the EU to expand its sphere of strategic influence incrementally, it has also proved to be a strong policy tool for enhancing overall stability and security on the European continent. However, as the enlargement process lately moved toward an EU of 25 and 27 respectively, the European project entered a crucial geopolitical stage. While bringing the EU into direct contact with new areas of strategic interest, the enlargements in 2004 and 2007 also shifted the EU borders to the very eastern — and therefore probably ultimate — limits of Europe, leaving outside a number of states that are unlikely to ever become candidates for formal membership. When introduced in 2003, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) with its underlying concept of a ‘Wider Europe’ was intended to counter the emergence of new dividing lines, which were likely to result from this post-enlargement setting. It addressed all neighbouring countries of the EU that did not have a mid-term perspective for accession.1 The vision behind the policy initiative was to stabilize the so-called ‘near abroad’ to the service of the Union’s security and prosperity, in essence by establishing a ‘ring of friends’ in the European neighbourhood without effectively enlarging the Union any further.
KeywordsPolitical Reform Policy Transfer European Economic Area Historical Institutionalist European Neighbourhood Policy
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