FP Bulgaria issue 1 (30)

February 2010

The first online only issue of FP Bulgaria.

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After Europe (in Bulgarian)


Author(s): Ivan Krastev

The Bulgarian edition of "After Europe", published by Obsidian Publishing House.

After Europe


Author(s): Ivan Krastev

In this provocative book, renowned public intellectual Ivan Krastev reflects on the future of the European Union—and its potential lack of a future.

Democracy Disrupted


Author(s): Ivan Krastev

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Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: Challenges and Opportunities. Bulgaria Country Report

05 June 2017

Author(s): Ruzha Smilova

Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: Challenges and Opportunities Edited by Peter Vandor, Nicole Traxler, Reinhard Millner, and Michael Meyer. ERSTE Foundation publication

Democratic Innovation and the Politics of Fear: 25 Lessons from Eastern Europe

05 June 2017

Author(s): Daniel Smilov

Daniel Smilov's contribution to The Governance Report 2017, published by Oxford University Press

Political Finance in East, Central and South East Europe & Central Asia

Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns: A Handbook on Political Finance © International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance 2014, 16 July 2015

Author(s): Daniel Smilov

The New European Disorder

ECFR, 11 November 2014

Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

Bulgaria: EP Elections a Rehearsal for Early National Elections

23 May 2014

EPIN publication with a general introduction and case studies from 11 Member States (Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and the UK) "Between Apathy and Anger: Challenges to the Union from the 201

Author(s): Antoinette Primatarova

Bridge Over Troubled Waters? The Role of the Internationals in Albania

12 October 2012

Publication of Antoinette Primatarova and Dr Johanna Deimel with contributions by Margarita Assenova

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Putin’s Next Playground or the E.U.’s Last Moral Stand?

New York Times, 28 January 2019

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

The Metamorphosis of Central Europe

Project Syndicate, 21 January 2019

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

A European Goes to Trump’s Washington

New York Times, 30 November 2018

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

Steve Bannon’s New Best Friend in Europe

New York Times, 19 August 2018

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

Imitation and Its Discontents

Journal of Democracy, 05 August 2018

Author(s): Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes

The Pope vs. the Populists

New York Times, 12 July 2018

Central Europe is a lesson to liberals: don’t be anti-nationalist

The Guardian, 11 July 2018

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

3 Versions of Europe Are Collapsing at the Same Time

Foreign Policy, 10 July 2018

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

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In Search of Two Distinct Tracks for Non-EU Europe and the European Neighbourhood.

Hayoz, Jesien & Van Meurs (eds.) Enlarged EU – Enlarged Neighbourhood. Perspectives of the European Neighbourhood Policy. Peter Lang. p.19 – 49
10 March 2005
Antoinette Primatarova

In Search of Two Distinct Tracks for Non-EU Europe and the European Neighbourhood


Antoinette Primatarova, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia



The paper takes a critical view of EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The expressed critical view is enforced by the recent ‘Orange revolution’ in the Ukraine but goes much beyond the Ukrainian case. The ENP is criticized for embedding EU’s relations with European countries and non-European countries in one and the same framework, thus mixing up two distinct tracks that should be kept apart. While promoting peace, security and stability in Europe and around Europe are considered as equally important and desirable objectives, a view is expressed that the strategies for achieving the two objectives should be different. The paper does not raise the issue of the feasibility of the ENP’s Europeanisation agenda for the Mediterranean countries. However, it strongly argues that for European countries with EU aspirations an Europeanisation agenda, explicitly linked to prospects for membership, is highly desirable. This should be an agenda with clear commitments from both sides: a commitment by the respective countries to an Europeanisation reform agenda and a commitment by the EU that the end of the road will be EU membership. EU-Russia relations are considered to be a special issue. Taking into account the reluctance of the EU to design both the strategy for its fifth enlargement (with 10 countries in 2004 and Bulgaria and Romania to follow in 2007) and to embark on a strategy for the enlargement with the Western Balkan countries, not to talk about EU’s longstanding ambiguity towards Turkey, the paper does not anticipate short-term miracles with regard to a comprehensive strategy for a continent-wide EU (in which non-membership should be the exception on the basis of the respective countries self-determination). However, the paper advocates an early commitment to such an agenda through clear signals and symbolic gestures and makes some proposals in this respect.



1. The European Neighbourhood Policy at the Crossroads?[1]


In early May 2004, a few days after the historic enlargement with ten new Member States, the European Commission adopted a ‘strategy paper’ regarding the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).[2] The strategy paper was presented as shifting the ENP into higher gear[3]. The preparation of jointly agreed Action Plans with seven neighbours (Israel, Jordan, Moldova, Morocco, The Palestinian Authority, Tunisia and Ukraine) was envisaged within the term of the Prodi Commission. In parallel, the Commission was preparing a key agreement with Russia. (Russia, though a neighbour of the EU, gets a special treatment as a ‘strategic partner’ and the ENP is only one pillar of the overall relations.) The agreement should allow the creation of four common spaces between Russia and the EU – economic; freedom, security and justice; external security; and research, education and culture[4].

Until the late summer of 2004 the enlarged EU’s framework for relations with the neighbours, old and new, seemed to be in smooth water.

Only a few months later, in December 2004, the EU had substantial problems with its neighbourhood approach. The Action Plans with the seven EU-neighbours had been passed from the Prodi onto the Barosso Commission. When the Barosso Commission finalized them in late November, it made indications that the adoption of the Action Plan for Ukraine might depend upon the outcome of the Ukrainian crisis[5]. The EU-Russia summit (planed for November 11 2004) was postponed at Moscow’s request. The official reason given was the disarray around the new Commission but the real reason was the clear failure to adopt the EU-Russia ‘Four Spaces’ agreement. This failure was partly due to the reluctance of Russia to accept the EU’s concept of ‘common neighbourhood’ as a key concept for the elaboration of a policy towards a common space of external security (there was an obvious clash between the EU’s ‘neighbourhood’ concept and Russia’s ‘near abroad’ concept). When the EU-Russia summit took place on November 25, 2004, the adoption of the ‘Four Spaces’ agreement was postponed for the next summit in May 2005. Even though the joint press release claimed that there was only an ‘exchange of views on the current developments in Ukraine’, the discussion on Ukraine in fact dominated the summit. In a speech just a few days after the EU-Russia summit, the President of the Council, Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, disclosed the existing tension between the EU and Russia in very plain language: ‘Russia wants to know where the European Union will stop. Does it plan to swallow up Ukraine, Belarus and the Caucasus too? Brussels sees this as an open question unlikely to be resolved in the foreseeable future, but Moscow may see a smokescreen hiding our true intentions.’[6] Differences on the approach towards Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia were very much at the core of the disagreement during the 12th OSCE Ministerial Council December 6–7 2004 in Sofia. Comments were made that Russia had returned to its Cold War position.

The fact that in early December the EU and Russia openly divided on Ukraine had very much to do with the ENP.[7]

The Ukrainian crisis raised worldwide attention to the unresolved issue of Ukraine’s prospects for EU membership. On the one hand, there were analysts who feared that the Ukrainian crisis might lead the EU to give Ukraine the highly desired EU membership perspective and advised it not to do that:

‘…the Europeans should not say anything that would reinforce the view of many Russians that Ukraine faces a clear-cut choice between East and West. The EU may want to rethink its long-standing position that Ukraine ‘has as much reason to be in the EU as New Zealand’, in the words of Romano Prodi, the recently departed Commission president. But now it is not the time to talk about Ukraine becoming an EU member.’[8]

On the other hand, there were analysts that hoped and insisted on that the EU should do just that:

‘Why doesn’t the EU simply say that it wants Ukraine to join, on condition of course that Ukraine meet all the demanding entry criteria … The Europeans, who fear ruffling Russia's feathers, are happy to concede Ukraine to Moscow in exchange for Russia's good will, oil and gas … If the EU fails to support democracy in Ukraine by offering EU membership, then it repudiates its claim to being a new community of states that rests on values.’[9]


At the negotiating tables in Kiev yesterday, there was Javier Solana from Brussels, the Polish and Lithuanian presidents, and a senior Russian official, but not, so far as I know, any senior American. And that’s right. This is a version of our European model of peaceful revolution, with the aim of rejoining Europe, not America. Now it’s up to us to support it, with all the peaceful means at our disposal. These include saying that, in our interest as well as theirs, a democratic Ukraine deserves a place in the European Union. Agreed?’[10]

There were also quite many voices that did give the EU the blame for ignoring the Ukrainian aspirations for EU membership in a too blatant way and for too long a time[11].

The Ukrainian opposition leader Mr. Yushchenko didn’t miss the chance to raise the issue of EU membership on the eve of the re-run of the elections: ‘Of course, Ukraine is waiting for real concrete steps in response to these democratic and political processes that are occurring in Ukraine. We are awaiting analogous steps from the European Union.’[12]

The Georgian ‘Rose Revolution’ of 2003 prompted the European Union to extend its European Neighbourhood Policy, while still in the making, to the three Caucasian republics – Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan[13]. This was already a hint that something was wrong with the geographical scope of the respective policy from the very beginning.

The Ukrainian ‘Orange Revolution’ puts now into question the very substance of the ENP. Official ENP documents tend to blur that the respective countries have never confirmed the alleged attractiveness of the Neighbourhood Policy. Ukraine initially wavered over whether to take part in the ENP at all, and when it finally did so, it was with a degree of political resentment. The EU’s eagerness to adopt the EU-Ukraine Action Plan on December 9 2004 by the Commission and on December 13 2004 by the Council has been met with great reluctance by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ‘Expressing our gratitude to the European partners for efforts made over this document, we would like to note at the same time that the approved Action Plan reflects only the level of Ukraine-EU relations that we could have reached before the presidential elections in 2004.’[14].

But it wouldn’t be exaggerated to say that the recent demonstrations in Kiev do raise questions going much beyond the future of the Ukraine or of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The real issue at stake is the future of the European continent, the question whether the EU is ready to face the necessity to embark on a really continent-wide policy in which non-EU membership would be the exception on the basis of self-determination by the respective countries/ peoples (like in the cases of Norway and Switzerland) and because of any exclusion policy of the EU itself.

After almost three years of elaboration of a European Neighbourhood Policy, at a point where the EU had reasons to believe that the ENP was just about to be successfully launched, the Ukrainian crisis inevitably raised a lot of questions: questions about the scope and purposes of the ENP, about EU’s relations with Russia, about the role of Russia with regard to the ENP etc. Both Commission officials and politicians from Member States behaved as if it was still ‘business as usual’ but they should have admitted that the ENP was at the crossroads even before it went off. The timing of the Ukrainian crisis was of course the worst possible one. Under a Polish-backed proposal, the EU would have described Ukraine as a ‘strategic partner’ rather than a ‘key neighbour’ and would have spoken of moving Ukraine closer to the EU rather than ‘further reinforcing’ political ties already in the Conclusions of the December 2004 European Council. This Council had however to face the difficult decision on Turkey and the EU agenda seemed to be overburdened as it was.

However, EU’s reluctance to change anything in the ENP just because of Ukraine might be considered as positive, too. As will be argued in this paper, a revision is needed not only with regard to Ukraine but to the overall ENP.


2. The European Neighbourhood Policy – A Strategy of Deliberate Ambiguity


A lot of questions have been already raised and discussed since the very start of the debate concerning the substance and purposes of the ENP. In less than three years time many conferences and much research on the subject have been launched.[15]

The purpose of the present paper is not to deliver a survey of all the topics discussed. It is rather to question whether the challenges the ENP is supposed to tackle have been rightly identified. In order to say whether the ENP provides the right answers we have to be sure whether the right questions have been asked.

The ENP as it emerged after two years of work within the EU institutions is a framework which should have acquired substance through the Action Plans. Unfortunately, the seven Action Plans that were recently released – including those for Ukraine and Moldova – are again just frameworks. The question whether there are any incentives that could foster real action remains open even after the release of the Action Plans.

A number of analysts have already questioned whether the ENP delivers the right incentives. There are both critical assessments, and more positive ones.

The positive ones are falling short of providing arguments why they believe the ENP provides strong enough incentives and ignore that the ‘neighbours’ themselves are rather critical to the whole initiative. For rather uncritical broad positive assessment cf. Rhein (2004) and Pugsley (2004). For critical assessment cf. Grabbe (2004), Cameron (2004), Emerson (2003), (2004), Wolczuk (2004).[16]

The many reluctant and critical voices make the question whether there is something wrong with the overall design of the respective policy more and more pressing.

The biggest problem with the ENP is that instead of providing answers/ solutions to well defined questions/ problems, it actually is more eager to conceal problems and to supersede questions.

A short analysis of the objectives of the ENP as defined in the ENP Strategy paper can easily prove this. The compressed objectives of the ENP, as seen by the Commission and endorsed by the Council, read as follows:

‘Since this policy (the ENP) was launched, the EU has emphasised that it offers a means to reinforce relations between the EU and partner countries, which is distinct from the possibilities available to European countries under Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union. The objective of the ENP is to share the benefits of the EU’s 2004 enlargement with neighbouring countries in strengthening stability, security and well being for all concerned. It is designed to prevent the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours and to offer them the chance to participate in various EU activities, through greater political, security, economic and cultural cooperation.’[17]

Simplified, this could be interpreted as one single objective – avoiding new dividing lines, i.e. stability, security and well being for both EU and non-EU members, for both Europeans and European neighbours. All the rest could be interpreted as means to achieve this objective: reinforced relations between the EU and partner countries, participation in various EU activities, greater political, security, economic and cultural cooperation.

However, the fact that the deduced objective has been put at the end of the paragraph suggests that the real objective differs from the above proposed reading. The explanations start not with what the ENP is about but jump into what it is not about. It is quite odd to present a policy in this way – not through what it wants to achieve but through what it is eager to avoid.

This interpretation, as exaggerated it might sound, is supported by a lot of official statements in the early phase of the ENP. Commission President Prodi induced the early discussion with statements like ‘We cannot go on enlarging forever’, ‘Accession is not the only game in town’, ‘more than partnership and less than membership’, ‘sharing everything with the Union but institutions’[18].

It might be tempting to define the new policy unequivocally as intended to stop ‘enlarging forever’ by offering ‘more than partnership’ and ‘less than membership’ and to dismiss it altogether, but its ambiguity deserves closer consideration.

For the purposes of the present paper a good point of departure seems to be a closer examination of the three possible interpretations of the objectives of the Wider Europe policy, proposed by Emerson (2004):

– Mitigation of negative enlargement impacts on new border regions

– Rhetorical, low cost diplomacy to try and placate the excluded

– Transformation of the states of the rest of Europe in line with common European values and with the benefits of progressive integration (Europeanisation).

Considering these options, special attention will be given to the issue in how far the geographical scope of the presented policy contributed to the blurring of the objectives. Furthermore, attention will be paid to the fact that a debate that started under the label ‘Wider Europe’[19] ended up in a policy that dropped the label altogether.


2. 1. The ENP as Mitigation of Negative Enlargement Impacts on New Border Regions?


The first deliberations of the Council, formulated as concerns about the relations between the enlarged European Union and its eastern neighbours,[20] could suggest that the objective would be just this – mitigation of negative enlargement impacts on new border regions. Emerson (2004) regards this objective as ‘worthwhile but not strategic’. Still, the diplomatic language of the European officials about the dual challenge ‘of avoiding new dividing lines in Europe while responding to needs arising from the newly created borders of the Union’ and the need to ‘fully exploit the new opportunities created by enlargement to develop relations with our neighbours’[21] was suggesting that this would be one, if not the only objective. In that case the label ‘Wider Europe’ would serve simply the second rhetorical objective, dismissed by Emerson as ‘unworthy cynicism’.

The problem of negative enlargement impact on new border regions is of course a real one. Translated into common language this problem was seen as how to avoid a new Iron Curtain is falling between the new members of the EU and European countries remaining outside the EU, at least for the foreseeable future:

‘The last decade has seen many positive developments in the regions that would soon be the EU’s new borderlands. Cross-border trade and business have flourished. … However, EU enlargement could threaten these achievements. New barriers to travel and trade would leave the people on the other side of the border with a feeling of exclusion and anger. Robbed of the prospect of improved living standards, they may well try to slip into the EU illegally or resort to crime and smuggling…Border checks and immigration controls must not be allowed to turn into a new Iron Curtain.’[22]

New metaphors reflecting the problem emerged as well: ‘Fortress Europe’, ‘Raising the Drawbridge”, the ‘Great Wall of Europe’, ‘Schengen Wall’ etc.

Provided the EU would try to tackle the respective problems, ‘Wider Europe’ as a label might make sense if the geographical scope of the initiative would be extended to all non-EU European countries that are not included in the Schengen or in the European Economic Area either.

Avoiding a new ‘Iron Curtain’ is a big problem linked not only to the 2004 enlargement but also to the 2007 enlargement when Bulgaria and Romania are scheduled to join the EU. Whereas the EU has always encouraged cooperation in Southeast Europe, it has no formula for softening the consequences of the implementation of the Schengen acquis towards the Western Balkans. Except Croatia, all the other Western Balkan countries are on the ‘black list’, i.e. their citizens need visas to cross the borders of the EU regardless of their status of ‘potential candidates’. Since there is no timetable for the accession of these countries to the European Union, this means that there will be at least a temporary problem with ‘new dividing lines’ after the 2007 enlargement as well. Interestingly, the Wider Europe discussion started around the 2004 enlargement and Moldova was included in the list of countries under consideration from the very beginning. However, Moldova will not be a neighbour of the EU until Romania’s accession to the EU.

As regards trade relations, with the 2004 accession the Central European Free Trade Area (CEFTA) lost most of its members. At present, CEFTA includes Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia, with Macedonia being a candidate. Bilateral free trade agreements concluded by Bulgaria and Romania in the framework of the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe (and strongly encouraged by the EU) will have to be cancelled upon accession as well. This means that trade relations suffered in 2004 and one can suppose they will suffer in 2007 as well. Thus, facilitation of trade between the enlarged EU and non-EU European countries obviously is a problem that goes beyond the countries originally included in the ‘Eastern scope’ of the new policy.

From the perspective of the 2007 enlargement, the ‘Eastern scope’ of the new initiative with four so-called ‘Western CIS countries’ did make little sense. With Bulgaria and Romania as members in 2007 and Turkey as a candidate country (from 2005 onwards involved in membership negotiations) the Black Sea will become Europe’s next shore, so it would be much more natural to start considering not simply an Eastern dimension but a much broader ‘Black Sea Dimension’, thus including Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan from the very beginning and not ‘waiting’ for the ‘Rose Revolution’.

As regards a possible ‘Eastern dimension’, the Polish government started actively to contribute to the elaboration of the new Wider Europe policy from the very beginning. Poland had expressed a vision of its role for the elaboration of a policy towards the eastern neighbours already during the opening of the membership negotiations back in 1998. A Polish non-paper from early 2003 proposed an ‘Eastern dimension’ of the EU as a complementary one to the ‘Northern dimension’ (institutionalised by Finland by the end of 1999 and further promoted during the Swedish and the Danish Presidencies in 2001, respectively 2002). The Polish proposal[23], however, envisaged a future for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova (but not for Russia) in the European Union. Finnish researchers[24] liked the idea of preserving the ‘dimensions’ approach but wanted to see the ‘Northern dimension’ extended through the ‘Eastern dimension’ rather than a totally new ‘Eastern dimension’.

As regards a possible ‘Black Sea Dimension’, the idea has been promoted by researchers in the broader context of Euro-Atlantic relations.[25]

To do the European Commission justice, it should be mentioned that in 2003 it came up with two proposals for regulations, one on the establishment of a regime of local border traffic at the external land borders of the Member States and another on the establishment of a regime of local border traffic at the temporary external land borders between Member States.[26] Once adopted, these regulations will be a modest contribution to the softening of new dividing lines but they will by far not resolve the problem. (The two regulations are mentioned in the ENP Strategy paper).

Obviously, the EU was not willing and not able to provide any short-term solutions to the ‘new dividing lines’ challenge – neither with regard to the 2004, nor with regard to the 2007 enlargement. In order to dilute the problem it was not ready to resolve, not in a short-term framework at least, the EU extended the context both regarding the time framework and regarding the geographical scope of the exercise.

What happened finally was that the ‘Wider Europe Policy’ was transformed into a ‘European Neighbourhood Policy’ that incorporated already existing neighbourhood policies – the Barcelona process and the ‘Northern dimension’. So, even if the diplomatic language about preventing ‘the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours’ has been preserved in the ENP Strategy paper from 2004, the real problem has been concealed and put off the agenda. The Strategy paper and the Action plans are more than vague both as regards the visa issues and the access to the European internal market.[27] As regards the sensible visa issue, embarrassing are the double standards applied towards Russia, on the one hand, and the rest of European countries falling under visa requirements, both Western Balkan countries and former Soviet republics. Whereas in the case of Russia the EU demonstrates readiness to include ‘visa free travelling’ on the agenda, even if as a long term objective, it goes not much further than considering ‘possibilities for visa facilitation’ for the CIS countries or ‘liberalisation of the visa regime’ for the Western Balkan countries.


2. 2. ‘Wider Europe’or ‘European Neighbourhood’?


It is worth considering why the label ‘Wider Europe’ has been dropped. What would be its symbolic meaning if preserved? What is the symbolic meaning of merging the original duo ‘Wider Europe-Neighbourhood’ into ‘European neighbourhood’?

Maybe along the lines of low cost diplomacy ‘Wider Europe’ was considered to go towards a continent-wide Europe, including both EU members and non-members, ‘Europe beyond the EU’? Or maybe it was considered as ‘Europe beyond Europe’ because of the inclusion of the Southern neighbours?

The main problem is that in euro-jargon ‘Europe’ and ‘EU’ seem to be used interchangeable without deep reflection. (This is maybe one of the unconscious mechanisms to suppress questions and problems or just a sign of how slow ‘mental maps’ are changing). It is striking to read the first sentence of the European Security Strategy (ESS 2003): ‘Europe has never been so prosperous, so secure or so free.’ No doubt, what the EU officials had in mind was the EU, not a continent-wide Europe. Indeed, the fall of the Berlin Wall, symbolically speaking, brought freedom to most of the countries behind the ‘Iron Curtain’, but in terms of prosperity and stability for many people behind the ‘Curtain’, the immediate results of freedom did and for some still do compare badly with the previous situation. Moreover, the fall of the Berlin Wall didn’t bring freedom to all people as the Ukrainian crisis proves. It is not surprising that both the Ukrainians and many analysts draw parallels between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the ‘Orange Revolution’, that they see ‘freedom’s front line’ moving now further East to Kiev.[28] Thus, if we draw the distinction between Europe and the EU, we will have to realize that the first sentence of the ESS is distorting the picture of the real continent-wide situation.[29]

Through its strong involvement in the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis the EU has fully shouldered its responsibility as regards its moral commitment to continent-wide freedom. The big challenge now is in how far the EU can shoulder the responsibility for continent-wide security and prosperity as well.

Around the 2004 enlargement many EU officials spoke about a Union of continental dimensions, about the final unification of the continent, the unification of East and West. Sometimes they added that unification will not be completed before Bulgaria, Romania and the Western Balkans join. But, at least for the time being, these seem to be the borders of the mental map of Europe for many Europeans. In 2000, President Prodi considered Ukrainian aspirations to join the EU as misplaced as would have been New Zeeland’s aspirations to join the EU. Commissioner Verheugen, in 1999 told the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee that: ‘I think that anybody who thinks that the Ukraine should be taken in the EU … should perhaps come along with the argument that Mexico should be taken into the US.’

That Europe continues to be divided is rarely recognized. However, the year 2004 definitely marked the division of the former East bloc into two groups of states: the ones that already joined the EU or are on the way to join it and the countries affiliated in the Commonwealth of Independent States, which are pursuing strategies of reform and development clearly different than the strategy of the countries of Central and Southeast Europe.[30]

Even when Europe’s division is recognized, there is a strong tendency to take this division as a kind of natural phenomenon or to respect it as a geopolitical reality, to consider the countries behind the ‘Eastern Curtain’ as a Russian sphere of interest. The tendency is so strong, that some analysts seem already to have accepted a new European environment with EU-Europe versus EU-East[31].

The comfort not to have to think of Europe behind the Eastern Curtain as of Europe has been now shaken by the Ukrainian crisis.

Every time the EU was shaken to recognize that it has to expand its mental map of Europe, there has been reluctance. Part of Western Europeans reactions to all East European velvet revolutions has been the embarrassment: ‘Why won't all these bloody, semi-barbarian, east Europeans leave us alone, to go on living happily ever after in our right, tight, little west European (or merely British) paradise?’[32]

But the ‘Reluctant West European’ is captured not only by comfort when he has to revise his mental map of Europe. He is captured even more so by what Davies (1996) refers to as the ‘Allied Scheme of History’, one of its elements being ‘The unspoken acceptance of the division of Europe into Western and Eastern spheres. Whereas ‘Atlantic values’ are expected to predominate in the West, the East is considered as Russia’s legitimate sphere of influence’. According to Davies: ’The hold of the Allied scheme was evident in the reactions to the collapse of communism after 1989.’

The ‘Allied Scheme of History’ was influential in 1999, too. Just before the launch of the Stability Pact for South East Europe, German diplomats involved in the process were about to give in to Russian demands for inclusion of a sentence that the region is part of Russia’s traditional sphere of interests. The South East European countries had the feeling that they succeeded in preventing a second ‘Yalta’ when the sentence was deleted in the very last minute upon their joint insistence.

The disappearance of ‘Wider Europe’ may be just the most recent utilization of the ‘Allied Scheme of History’.

One thing is beyond doubt: Whereas ‘Wider Europe’ has been criticized for its ambiguity, the abandonment of this concept and its replacement through ‘European neighbourhood’ seems to be rather unambiguous: the EU wants to consider itself as Europe and intends to treat all countries not belonging to this EU-Europe simply as neighbours. The linguistic trick of embedding through the metaphor ‘European neighbourhood’ both European and non-European countries in one and the same framework was intended to hide at least for some years ahead the difference between the two groups of countries and in this way the need for developing different strategies for the relations with them. Nobody should be surprised that the European countries included in the ENP perceived this strategic metaphorisation as ‘degrading’[33] – they considered themselves as part of the European family, they wanted to rejoin the family in the ‘big European House’ but they where degraded to neighbours.


2.3. ‘Ring of Friends’ or ‘Ring of Well-governed Countries’? The ‘Europeanisation’ Objective.


The third possible objective of the Wider Europe policy identified by Emerson (2004) is introduced for the discussion under the label ‘Europeanisation’. The “Europeanisation” concept is a rather recent one and by far not unambiguous. For the purposes of the present paper two of the five uses identified by Olson (2002) seem to be appropriate. Europeanisation as

-          Changes in external territorial boundaries (taking place when the European Union expands its boundaries through enlargement)

-          Exporting forms of political organization and governance that are typical and distinct for Europe beyond the European territory.[34]

In the more colloquial language of the initial Wider Europe debate labels like ‘sharing with the Union everything but the institutions’ and ‘anything close of membership’ seem to correspond to the Europeanisation agenda of both the ENP Strategy Paper and the Action Plans. The Europeanisation agenda seems to be in good correspondence with the European Security Strategy. Whereas in the ESS the neighbourhood is not formulated as a threat, building security in the neighbourhood is formulated as a ‘strategic objective’. ‘It is in the European interest that countries on our borders are well governed. Neighbours who are engaged in a violent conflict, weak states where organized crime flourishes, dysfunctional societies or exploding population growth on its borders all pose problems for Europe.’ (Europe here means again simply EU).

No doubt, the strategic objective ‘well-governed countries at the borders’ provides much more substance than the metaphor ‘ring of friends’.

The fifth enlargement of the EU with the eight CEECs that joined in 2004 and with Bulgaria and Romania, well on track to join in 2007, is the undisputed proof for a successful Europeanisation towards ‘well-governed countries’. Enlargement is one of ‘the most successful and impressive political transformations on the European continent that the EU ever made.’[35] The success is explained by President Prodi himself through the ‘hope for the future’ given the respective countries through the decision in 1993, a decision taken at the famous Copenhagen European Council. “Such hope is a strange thing. … How does a country envision its future when it is lacking direction or confidence?” asks Prodi in his Wider Europe speech in clear contradiction to the reluctance to give hope to further European countries willing to embark on the difficult transformation road. ‘The goal of accession is certainly the most powerful stimulus for reform we can think of. But why should a less ambitious goal not have some effect?’

The ENP must have been drafted with some kind of positive answer to this rhetoric question in mind or simply in a mood of wishful thinking. However, analysts have mostly expressed doubts whether there is any such second best option, any ‘silver carrot’ instead of the ‘golden carrot’ of enlargement.

As on many other issues, the EU seems to become the victim of its own success with regard to the soft power policy of enlargement. The European institutions, the most distinctive feature of EU integration, have become the ‘golden carrot’ a successful Europeanisation process can hardly work without (at least within Europe).

‘In the past empires have imposed their laws and systems of government; in this case no one is imposing anything. Instead, a voluntary movement of self-imposition is taking place. While you are a candidate for EU membership you have to accept what is given – a whole mass of laws and regulations – as subject countries once did. But the prize is that once you are inside you will have a voice in the commonwealth. If this process is a kind of voluntary imperialism, the end state might be described as a cooperative empire. “Commonwealth” might indeed not be a bad name.’[36]

The offer ‘everything but the institutions’ sounds really odd against this background. The stick of Europeanisation without the carrot of accession comes somehow down to colonization pure.

Being a soft power and not an empire, the EU has to realize that insisting on a policy of ‘everything but the institutions’ means giving up the values on which the EU itself is built.

Lang (2004) captures the contradictions of the neighbourhood policy from a different angle, drawing on ‘community studies’ in social sciences: ‘Neighbourhood (…) implies reciprocity, mutual responsibility and a feeling of belonging. (…) To define ‘neighbourhood’ as one’s ‘backyard’ is probably not very inviting. Even more hostile can appear the conditionality of adopting one’s own values and way of life (…) Honestly, to demand shared values and effective implementation of political, economic and institutional reforms, including in aligning legislation with the acquis in return for favourable economic exchange is far beyond any reasonable neighbourhood concept (…) ‘Common values’ is not something we can demand from a neighbour.’

Since Lang includes in his analysis of the ENP the no-new-dividing-lines objective as well, he comes to the conclusion that the suggested policy concept reads like:

‘We want a secure external border, but it must be completely permeable, our neighbours must adopt EU institutions to an extent that they can be considered part of the “family” without being it and we want a “ring of friends” that follows the same objectives although they are very different.’

Without the prospect of enlargement at the end of the road, the ‘ownership’ concept introduced in the ENP Strategy and in the Action Plans becomes meaningless as well. If there is no target to be inspired by, everything is reduced down to imposition.

Talking about ‘states’ blurs that one has to take into account the people involved in government and the ordinary citizens as well. Without a clear target, neither the political elite nor the ordinary citizens can be mobilized for the demanding Europeanisation agenda.

In conclusion, one might say that an Europeanisation agenda designed for neighbours is an imperial approach, even if it should be restricted to the export of certain forms of political organization and governance.

On the other hand, if we really want to achieve a Europe that spans the continent, we need an Europeanisation agenda for the countries that are not integrated yet. However, this Europeanisation agenda has to be an agenda with commitments for both sides: a commitment by the prospective member countries to an Europeanisation reform agenda and a commitment by the EU that the end of the road will be EU membership. The chance to benefit from such a joint Europeanisation agenda has to be granted to Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and the three Caucasian republics Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. One more argument in favour of offering an Europeanisation agenda to the respective countries is that an Europeanisation agenda is already on offer for the Western Balkans and Turkey. With regard to these countries the EU has expressed an overall commitment to enlargement on several occasions, the last one being the European Council on December 16–17 2004, even as there still is a need for a comprehensive strategy. Most recently the former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt did argue that after the 2004 and 2007 enlargement the EU must think big and design a comprehensive strategy for the Western Balkans and Turkey. Interestingly, Bildt indicated that afterwards there might be one more, final enlargement that would cover ‘the countries between the present Union and Russia’[37]

Formulating explicitly that an Europeanisation agenda is open to the countries mentioned above would not mean that a pre-accession strategy proper would be elaborated in the months to come. A comparison to how the fifth enlargement was prepared – the reluctance of the European Union from 1989 until 1993 when all alternatives to membership had to be dropped, the time it took to elaborate the pre-accession strategy (1993–1997), the implementation of this strategy – everything proves that there is a long road from the commitment to enlargement until enlargement itself.[38] Still, a verbal commitment to such an agenda would immediately give the Action Plans a different dimension.


3. Proposals for the Way Ahead


From the perspective of the European non-EU members the ENP can be criticized because of many reasons: it is not well targeted, it is deliberately ambiguous, it doesn’t address the challenge of new dividing lines within Eastern Europe, it is devoid of any long-term vision, it offers a lot of rhetoric and very little incentives, contrary to verbalized ambitions to be creative and innovative it hardly offers any value added,[39] it is aiming at preserving of the status quo, it is the result of self-concern rather than of mutual understanding. Contrary to commitment to regional approach it is devoid of a comprehensive vision for a regional approach with regard to the ‘Eastern countries’ etc. The implicit ‘Eastern dimension’ pays tribute to a mental map of Europe where there is a dividing line between ‘Europe’ and a Russian Eastern sphere of influence.

Does this mean that the best thing would be if the ENP could be dropped altogether? After more than two years of elaboration, the probability of something like that happening is of course zero. That is why it is better to consider ways in which the ENP could be better adjusted to the needs of the respective countries.

It has already been mentioned that the first revision of the ENP was one in scope when it was extended to the Caucasian republics in the wake of the ‘Rose revolution’.[40] Taking into account that all non-EU members with the exception of the ‘Western CIS’ and the Caucasian republics are either already well integrated with the EU (through the Schengen area and the European Economic Area) or in the process of integration (because of being involved at different stages of different enlargement strategies) the new challenge for the EU is now how best to integrate these countries in a continent-wide project. Looking not at the present governments but rather at the ordinary citizens, an interest in such an integration process cannot be neglected. Thus, in the wake of the ‘Orange revolution’ the EU (or single EU member states) could try to think big one more time and to consider not only the option how to upgrade relations with the Ukraine but how to remedy the unfortunate lumping together of ‘Southern’ and ‘Eastern’ neighbours with their quite different expectations with regard to the EU. Support for granting the Ukraine a long-term European perspective can be expected not only from Poland but from all the Visegrad countries and from the Baltic republics as well. Poland and fellow EU newcomer Lithuania have been most active in mediating Kiev’s political stalemate, alongside EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Kremlin representatives. On December 7, 2004, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad countries welcomed in a Declaration the decision of the Supreme Court of the Ukraine as a step towards the resolution of the political crisis and stated: ‘We believe that a positive resolution of the crisis followed by a genuine democratisation could create a basis for new quality in the EU-Ukraine relations. A democratic Ukraine, fulfilling its commitments and pursuing fundamental reforms, should be offered a long-term European perspective.’ In the past, Sweden has been eager to promote the relations between the EU and the Ukraine, too.[41] But a symbolic gesture targeted only to the Ukraine could create more problems than resolve any. The EU would enforce the already existing impression that it is not able of proactive policy and is good only in reactive crisis management. A European perspective granted to Ukraine only could create exaggerated expectations in the Ukraine (something the EU seems to be so afraid of) and be considered in other countries, not yet part of the ‘free world’[42] almost as an invitation to become the next velvet revolutioners.

So, to start with, the EU might revise one more time the scope of the ENP and mark in a symbolic way that the long-term perspectives for the two ‘groups’ of countries are different. This difference has been considered already in the Patten/Solana Wider Europe letter from 2002 but actually deliberately neglected in the design of the ENP. The ‘Southern neighbours’ could remain in the portfolio of the External Relations and Neighbourhood Commissioner whereas the ‘Eastern countries’ could move to the portfolio of the Enlargement Commissioner. A new label could be considered for them as well. As already discussed, the dropped ‘Wider Europe’ label seems to be too ambiguous to serve any proper purposes. But why not drop the enlargement label and designate an Europeanisation Commissioner on the understanding that he will be responsible for countries already involved in the enlargement process and others only with a perspective to be involved in the process at a later stage?

Further, instead of one single task force two different task forces under the two different commissioners could be established. The problems and the achievable objectives are so different within Europe and in the Southern Mediterranean countries that this would allow for the elaboration of a much better targeted policy.

Embedded in ‘Europe’ and not ‘kicked out’ to the backyard, the respective European countries and their citizens would be much more motivated to embark on the ‘Europeanisation’ agenda of the Action Plans.

A further symbolic step intended not only to give all the countries from the region a membership perspective (beyond the one enshrined in the Treaty and in the new Constitution for Europe) but to involve Russia as well could be a strong involvement of the European Commission in the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). The experience shows that regional cooperation delivers much better results if it is not on the basis of exclusion but on the basis of inclusion,[43] the best example being the Baltic Sea Council, furthermore the Barents Sea Council and the Northern Dimension. Until now, the EU has been very reluctant towards the Black Sea Economic Cooperation regardless of the strong interest of the Organisation to enforce relations with the EU. Interestingly, Norway as non EU-member did show an interest in the Black Sea Cooperation at a very early stage and organized an international seminar on cooperation in the regions of the Baltic Sea, Barents Sea and the Black Sea (the three B’s) in 1997. [44] A Summit of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation following the format of the Baltic Sea Summit in 1996 (Commission President Santer participated and since then a Member of the European Commission is member of the Baltic Sea Council) would allow involving all the European ENP countries[45], including Russia in a framework of European cooperation. The format of the BSEC has further the advantage that the ‘Western CIS countries’ and the Caucasian republics will not be embedded in a format of a ‘Russian sphere of influence’. The ongoing Greek Presidency has on the agenda a EU-BSEC Conference (in April 2005) organized by the Hellenic Parliament with the participation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the BSEC and the European Parliament. So why not consider a Summit of the Heads of State and Government with the participation of the President of the European Commission as a further step in this direction? Such a summit could really create a sense of inclusion since the participating countries are at different stages of their European integration. The BSEC format could be very helpful for cross-border cooperation in all the relevant areas included in the ENP – energy, transport, and environment.

The symbolic gestures will have to be followed by more targeted design of the policy as well. In the adopted Action Plans with Ukraine and Moldova cooperation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs is already on the agenda. Ukraine has a good record of cooperation in this area and an operational JHA Action Plan.[46] Whereas in the process of integration of Central and Eastern Europe A White Book on the Single Market was one of the first cornerstones of the slowly evolving pre-accession strategy, a kind of a White Book on Justice and Home Affairs might be more appropriate to start with in the countries still under visa requirements – to address concerns in EU Member States, to facilitate close cooperation in the combat of organized crime, trafficking of drugs and people etc. but with the clear objective to move towards visa free traveling.

The new task force could design a strategy that would allow European non-member states to transform with the support of the EU into well-governed states. It should be acknowledged that the acquis is not an instrument for the transformation of former dictatorships, authoritarian states and centrally planned economies into well-governed states. It is rather vice versa – well-governed states are the indispensable instruments for the implementation of the acquis. The respective strategy could draw on the experience of the Central and East European countries in the process of their preparation for accession to the EU and the new EU Member States could be involved in its design.

Last but not least, the strategy could and should be innovative as regards designing possibilities for people-to-people contacts regardless of a certain country’s membership in the EU. Broad possibilities for people-to-people contacts and support for civil society should be provided even for countries that at a certain stage are not part of the ‘free world’ and because of that the EU has no or limited possibilities for cooperation at the governmental level.


A continent-wide European Union is of course a long-term vision. The present EU might tend to prefer to continue for quite some time without any new vision. The consolidation versus enlargement dilemma seems to have replaced the former deepening versus widening dilemma. But events like the ‘Rose revolution’ and the ‘Orange revolution’ open ‘windows of opportunity’ that have to be used to the mutual benefit of both EU Europeans and non-EU Europeans.





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[1] The paper was finalized in late December 2004 and does not cover events beyond that date. However, events from the first half of 2005 do not counter the critical assessment of the shortcomings of the ENP and the recommendations for differentiation between European and non-European countries. The European Commission and Member States continued pursuing the ENP in its design from 2004 without major changes. Kiev continued reiterating its membership quest. As a result of the Orange Revolution Ukraine got some support for its European aspirations. On January 13 2005 the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted for a resolution that boosted Ukraine’s long-term hopes to join the EU. In April 2005 The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a resolution emphasizing the need for a strategic overall approach to the ENP and at the same time asking for differentiated solutions for the European countries, which are entitled as a point of principle to apply for membership of the EU.  The French and the Dutch rejection of the Constitutional Treaty (May 29, and June 1 2005) were widely perceived as a blow to any ideas for further enlargement of the EU. Still, even after the two negative referenda talking about future enlargement continues to include not only the Western Balkan countries and Turkey but Ukraine as well. 


[2] COM (2004) 373 final.

[3] Already in 2003 the Commission adopted a Communication to the Council and the European Parliament. Wider Europe – Neighbourhood: a New Framework for our Relations with our Eastern and Southern Partners (COM (2003) 104 final of March 11, 2003).

[4] Agreed during the EU-Russia St Petersburg Summit in May 2003

[5] The crisis did arise around the contested results of the country’s presidential elections’ second round on November 21 2004. After the resolution of the crisis, the Action Plans were adopted by the Commission on December 9 2004, endorsed by the Council on December 13 2004 and forwarded for approval to the relevant Association or Cooperation Councils. The set of seven Action Plans has been delayed for quite some time mainly because of the Action Plan for Israel. The question arises in how far it makes sense to delay or to speed up the adoption of a whole “set” of Action Plans regardless of developments in individual countries.

[6] Cf. Bot 2004.

[7] It has to be mentioned that the situation was changing very rapidly. Although Russia did everything possible to enforce its own candidate – Mr Yanukovich – after the decision that the second round of the elections would be repeated on December 26 2004, President Putin surprisingly expressed a relaxed attitude towards a possible Ukrainian EU-membership. In response to a question during a press conference together with Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero on December 10 2004 in Moscow President Vladimir Putin said he considers that if Ukraine were to join the EU this would be a positive factor that, unlike NATO expansion, would help strengthen the system of international relations.

[8] Barysch&Grant 2004; cf. further, Thumann (2004), who virtually accused Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner and President Barosso of being careless with their commitments to Ukraine in the wake of the Ukrainian presidential election crisis.

[9] Motyl 2004

[10] Garton-Ash 2004 b

[11] Motyl 2004; Ukrainian MP Volodymyr Sivkovic in an interview for the German daily Die Welt, November 29, 2004, at http://www.welt.de/data/2004/11/29/367163.html?s=2; that many such accusations are in the air is proven by the fact that both Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, the present Neighbourhood Commissioner, and Commissioner Verheugen, the Neighbourhood Commissioner in Prodi’s College, feel obliged to publicly denounce them, cf. Ferrero-Waldner 2004 and Verheugen 2004.

[12] Interview with the Financial Times on December 10 2004.

[13] At the General Affairs Council on June 14 2004 when the ENP Strategy paper was endorsed.

[14] Press release about the MFA briefing on the occasion of the approval of the EU-Ukraine Action Plan.

[15] A good selection of both official documents and analytical papers can be found at the ENP website – http://europa.eu.int/comm/world/enp/index_en.htm

[16] Further to the critical assessment of the EU-Ukraine Action Plan by the Ukrainian MFA it has to be mentioned that Moldova isn’t happy with the ENP either. On the basis of its inclusion in the Stability Pact for South East Europe is would have preferred to be included in the Stabilization and Association Process foreseen for the Western Balkans. Cf. Moldova’s Position (2003)

[17] COM (2004) 373 final

[18] Prodi 2002

[19] Central in the Patten/ Solana letter, in Prodi’s speech “Wider Europe – a Proximity Policy”, in the Commission Communication COM (2003) 393. The special Task Force for the respective policy was presented back in July 2003 as the “Wider Europe Task Force”.

[20] General Affairs Council April 15, 2002.

[21] Patten/ Solana “Wider Europe”-letter to the members of GAC on the eve of the August 2002 Gymnich meeting

[22] Batt 2003, p.2–3

[23] Cf. Cimoszewisz 2003 & 2004

[24] Hiski 2002 and Hiski & Moshes 2003

[25] Cf. Aydin (2004) and furthermore Asmus (2004) who considers the need of a new Euro-Atlantic strategy for the Black Sea region.

[26] COM (2003) 502 final of August 14 2003

[27] Grabbe 2004 elaborates on these essential but missing incentives in the ENP strategy.

[28] Cf. Garton Ash 2004 b

[29] The difference EU/ continental wide Europe is however well reflected in President Prodi’s speeches from September 2004 during his visits in the three Caucasus republics upon their inclusion in the European Neighbourhood Policy. The first sentence of the ESS – “Europe has never been so prosperous, so secure and so free.” – is quoted literally but further down it is followed by a reference to local circumstances: “Freedom, stability and prosperity have just been empty words to so many of you and this must cease.”

[30] Ratayczyk, A. 2004 ‘New Europe: Report on Transformation’

[31] Cf. Rahr 2004

[32] Cf. Garton Ash 2004c

[33] Ukrainian Speaker of Parliament Volodymyr Lytvin, March 23 2003.

[34] Europe in this context is again interchangeable with EU

[35] Prodi 2002

[36] Cooper 2002

[37] Bildt 2004

[38] On the initial stage of Eastern Enlargement cf. Grabbe & Hughes 1998.

[39] In an attempt to explain his model of the Wider Europe policy President Prodi has said: ‘let me try to explain what model we should follow. I admit that many of the elements which come to my mind are taken from the enlargement process.” (Prodi (2002))

[40] It was a small step towards thinking big that all three Caucasus republics were included, even if the trigger came from only one of them.

[41] Person/Prodi 2001

[42] Cf. Garton Ash 2004 a

[43] In this context, frameworks for regional cooperation that include both EU Member States, prospective EU Member States and states without prospects/ aspirations for membership are considered as ‘inclusive’, whereas frameworks that include only non-EU countries are considered as ‘exclusive’.

[44] Cf. Godal (1997).

[45] The members are going beyond the countries bordering the Black Sea: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine were members from the beginning in 1992, Serbia and Montenegro joined in 2004. Belarus is not a member but this might change after political changes in the future.

[46] Cf. Pidluska (2001)