30 Jun 2008

The EU’s New Black Sea Policy – What kind of regionalism is this?

Michael Emerson

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After the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, the European Union moved quickly to fill an obvious gap in its vision of the regions to its periphery, proposing the ‘Black Sea Synergy’. The EU shows a certain degree of commonality in its approaches to the Baltic Sea region, the Mediterranean and now the Black Sea. While the political profiles of these maritime regions are very different, they naturally give rise to many common policy challenges. This paper sets out a ‘typology of regionalisms’ and examines where the EU’s Black Sea Synergy is going to find its place. There is already evidence of a diplomatic ballet between the EU and Russia, with the EU countering Russia’s pursuit of its own ‘geopolitical regionalism’. The EU would like in theory to see its efforts lead to a ‘transformative regionalism’, but the lack of agreement so far over further extending membership perspectives to countries of the region risks the outcome being placed more in the category of ‘compensatory regionalism’.