The European Neighborhood Policy in a Comparative Perspective – Models, Challenges, Lessons

Senior Researcher Aaron Matta from The Hague Institute for Global Justice, contributed a chapter to the volume “The European Neighborhood Policy in a Comparative Perspective – Models, challenges, lessons” edited by Prof. Sieglinde Gstoehl.

The European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) has evolved into one of the European Union’s major foreign policy instruments and received considerable attention. However, other EU neighborhood policies, and their relevance for the ENP, also require examination. The Arab uprisings, civil wars in Libya and Syria, the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula have all brought the institutional design and tools of the ENP into question and a comparative perspective is crucial to understand EU neighborhood policies in a wider sense.

neighborhood policy book coverThis timely book puts the ENP into context by exploring the major challenges and key lessons of the EU’s other policy frameworks with neighboring countries. Mapping the EU’s bi-lateral and multilateral neighborhood relations in comparison to the ENP and investigating the major challenges faced, it provides a comprehensive, up-to-date view of the EU’s relations with its neighbors. Focusing on current affairs and future challenges, the comparison with the ENP and the lessons to be drawn, generate novel insights into the EU’s closest external relations.

In his chapter titled “The EU’s Differentiated Integration Frameworks: Legislative Approximation and Lessons for the Eastern Partnership”, Dr. Matta asks what the European Neighborhood Policy, and in particular the Eastern Partnership, can learn from the experience of the other integration policy frameworks established by the EU. It analyses the challenges and achievements of these frameworks through the lens of the objectives of close alignment with or integration into the EU, and the respective legal instruments used.

The chapter shows how these frameworks can ultimately provide for a basic ‘check list’ of do’s and don’ts that if applied to the specific context of the ENP/EaP could bring lasting solutions. In the end, however, a new European deteriorated geopolitical environment, the fact that the EU has been thus far unable to offer concrete incentives or clear alternatives in exchange for meaningful law reform in the Eastern Partnership countries, coupled with its inability to deal with Russia’s disregard for internationally accepted norms, risk contributing to seriously undermining the EU’s normative power in the region.

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