The EU Neighborhood Policy (ENP) was established in 2004, the same year that the European Union (EU) was enlarged by 10 new countries, mainly in Eastern Europe. The purpose of the policy was to create a “ring of veins” around the EU’s new external borders and thus prevent new dividing lines in Europe. The desire was to continue the EU as a peace project, based on an idea that closer economic and political integration contributes to interdependence, something which in turn will lead to peace and stability. It was this dynamic that the EU received the Peace Prize for in 2012 . Article series.
- What does one mean by the EU’s neighborhood policy?
- What country does it cover?
- How is the policy characterized by strong unrest and conflict in the EU’s neighborhoods?
- How is the EU trying to meet the more uncertain situation?
2: Instrument for peace and stability
The many enlargements of the EU are based precisely on the idea that integration leads to peace . The idea is that opening up for young European democracies to become members of the union in exchange for respecting EU norms and rules will lead to stronger democracy and more interdependence, which in turn is important for creating peace and stability.
With further enlargements of the union, however, a need arose to develop a policy that could handle the relationship between the EU and the new neighboring countries – both in the east and the south. In many ways, one wanted to expand the peace project to include the countries that now had a “reputation” as new neighbors. The idea was thus that extensive association agreements could continue some of the same dynamics without offering membership. This means establishing a good circle where neighboring countries also see the value of adapting to EU norms and rules.
Neighboring countries should have better access to the internal market in the EU in return for them initiating reform processes that would contribute to democratization, the establishment of and compliance with the rule of law and respect for human rights (cf. Copenhagen criteria). In other words, the EU here offered a prospect of a privileged affiliation if the countries adhered to EU norms and values. In individual neighboring countries such as Moldova and Tunisia, the development has been positive. In others – such as Ukraine, Syria and Libya – it has our negatives – partly dramatically negative.
3: Geographical catchment area
On paper, the EU’s Neighborhood Policy covers a total of 16 countries – 6 countries in the east (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) and 10 in the south (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia ).
As the EU demands that the partner countries join and respect the basic values on which the EU is based, this policy has not yet become active towards all 16 countries. In the eastern neighboring countries, a closer association (affiliation) with the EU either does not have the wishes of the political leaders (Belarus and Armenia), or the reform processes have not come far enough (Azerbaijan). And in the southern neighborhood, the civil wars in Syria and Libya, for example, have stopped a closer association with the EU. Neither Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Israel or Palestine have had a development that has made a closer connection possible.
The neighborhood policy, on the other hand, may point to results in Moldova, Georgia, Morocco, Tunisia and to some extent in Jordan. Despite the unrest and campaigns in Ukraine over the past year, the country continues its process of association. Common to these countries is that they have either negotiated or are in negotiations (Jordan) on extended association agreements, which also include far-reaching free trade agreements.
According to ITYPETRAVEL.COM, the neighborhood policy addresses the bilateral (bilateral) relationship between the individual partner country (in the east and south) and the EU. In addition, there are a number of regional co-operation initiatives to improve relations between countries in certain regions and thereby strengthen the opportunities for closer ties with the EU. This applies, for example, to the Eastern Partnership ( EAP), the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EUROMED) and the Black Sea Synergy (BSS).
4: Conditionality and safety
Although the neighborhood policy is a far weaker instrument than the enlargement processes , it is based on the same logic. Membership – and thus enlargement of the EU – is the carrot for candidates who live up to the admission requirements (Copenhagen criteria). Within the neighborhood policy, wages come in the form of closer association through extensive free trade agreements and mobility / visa agreements.
This means that both processes’ goal (ambition) is to expand the EU’s security community by maintaining a principle of conditionality. Carrot is a closer collaboration with the EU and may share in the welfare that is created there. The whip is to have to strive for and comply with conditions set by the EU. Conditionality is based on the idea that there is a connection between integration and security.
The difference between the enlargement process (cf. candidate country) and neighborhood policy is least clear in the east. This is due to the fact that the long-term goal of many of the partner countries is precisely membership. At the same time, there are different views among EU countries on whether possible or desirable membership is . This ambiguity has led the EU to set higher standards for countries in the east than for neighboring countries in the south. For those in the south, membership is out of the question anyway. This means that the demands from the EU to the east encompassing a tilslutting to EU regulations. Facing the south, an adaptation to EU norms and values is seen as sufficient.
5: The Arab Spring and the Neighborhood Policy
In 2010–2011, the EU began reforming its neighborhood policy. It is true that this reform process was initiated earlier, but it was intensified by the Arab Spring and the wave of will to reform that appeared in the southern neighborhood of the EU in 2011. In the same year, the neighborhood policy was geared to support the reforms that several countries in the region then initiated – often as a direct result of popular demands.
EU countries decided, among other things, to increase money transfers to neighboring countries and a so-called ” more-for-more-principle ” in the neighborhood policy. This meant a more differentiated policy where the most reform-friendly countries would receive the most financial support from the EU. The EU also set out to increase support for civil society and contribute to the development of stable democracy. This was an important change as the EU has long been blamed for favoring stability and security in its southern neighborhood over real democratization. With this, the neighborhood policy became more adapted to the situation in the individual country and thus also more results-oriented.
Since 2011, we have witnessed a positive development in Tunisia, and to a lesser extent in Morocco and Jordan. These countries are also the ones in the south that have the closest ties to the EU. At the same time, the overall level of tension in the region has increased, especially with the progress of the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. In many partner countries, the development has been negative. This is especially true in Libya and Syria, where civil war is raging. Developments in Egypt are also worrying. In fact, the unrest and tension in this region is a direct security policy challenge for Europe, among other things when people in the hundreds of thousands flee there from the conflicts there. About 5 percent of the world’s population lives in the Arab world, and more than 50 percent of the world’s refugees come from there.