The ENP: A policy without a strategy…

von Anne Marie Le Gloannec

The European Neighborhood Policy was supposed to be one of the flagship policies of the European Union, designed after the last big wave of enlargement (2004-2007) which brought the European Union (EU) to the shores of the Black Sea, to embrace poor and hardly democratic neighbors, which urgently needed Europe’s help without being able to absorb it quickly, let alone to introduce rapid and thorough reforms. Contrarily to enlargement policy, the ENP was essentially a pro-active policy. Enlargements were more or less thrust upon the European Communities (EC) and later the EU in a fit of absent-mindedness, since the EC and later the European Union (EU) never looked for new members. The ENP, on the contrary, was addressed to new or old neighbors, in Eastern Europe and on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean, to tie them in and at the same time contain possible instabilities and spill-overs which might have weakened the EU.

From the beginning an inherent contradiction haunted the ENP though. Was it to help the neighbors develop and democratize or was it, first and foremost, to protect the Union from the outer world by a ring of “well-governed” states, a grey zone of graded marches between the inner core of continental peace and prosperity and the outer world?

Unfortunately, the Europeans erred on the side of conservatism and procrastination. The Arab Spring caught the EU off guard and revealed how much European governments, the French and the Italian ones in particular, had connived with authoritarian regimes for the sake of stability, instead of talking democracy with the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya or Syria. Even the so-called “Tunisian economic miracle”, hailed by the EU and by the international organizations as well, on the eve of the revolution, was a total sham: liberalization and privatization mostly benefitted a few, clan and cronies of the Ben Ali ...

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