01 Mar 2005

From Barcelona Process to Neighbourhood Policy: Assessments and Open Issues

Gergana Noutcheva / Michael Emerson

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The Barcelona process so far has been a valuable systemic/institutional advance in Euro-Med relations and a confidence-building measure on a large scale. But it has not been a sufficient driving force to have created a momentum of economic, political and social advance in the partner states. It is therefore quite plausible that the EU should seek some new advance – through the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) – to build on the positive features of Barcelona and so try to introduce some new driving force. The Action Plans currently being adopted seek to make the often vague intentions of the Association Agreements of the Barcelona process more operational by linking them to either domestic policy programmes of the partner state or to EU policy norms and standards as an external anchor. In this paper we first crystallise alternative approaches for the ENP to become a real driving force under the headings of ‘conditionality’ and ‘socialisation’. The conditionality concept would mean that the EU sets out i) what incentives it offers, and ii) the conditions on which these incentives would be delivered. The socialisation concept relies essentially on a learning process that comes from the extensive interaction between actors in the partner states and the EU, which induces the partner states to engage in policy reforms that are to a degree modelled on EU norms or derive some inspiration from them. For the EU to become a driving force for reform in the region also requires that it does not have to face an uphill struggle against negative tendencies, for example in the widening and deepening of radical Islam – and here the issue of coherence in the approaches of the EU and US together is paramount.

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