Review of the Review – of the European Neighbourhood Policy
In this Commentary, CEPS Senior Research Fellow Michael Emerson critiques the Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy recently published by the European Commission and the High Representative and arrives at the following main conclusions:
- The Arab spring has pushed the EU institutions into advocating a ‘more for more’ concept, confirming the view that the European Neighbourhood Policy has not been offering sufficient net benefits for its attempted conditionality to work.
- More official aid and investment finance from the EU is now offered, especially for the progressive elements of the Arab spring, but effective coherence and coordination is required between all major external financiers in order for conditionality to be effective. The EU’s resources are insufficient to do this effectively on its own.
- Democracy is making a belated return to the announced agenda, after years of neglect or only token interest. It is now to be ‘deep democracy’, but new mechanisms to achieve this have not been defined in operationally meaningful terms, and the institutions seem unable to agree on what to do.
- Much is being made of the ‘mobility partnership’ concept that would be extended to North African countries, but behind the rhetoric the policy content is mainly about EU security interests, while the competences of the EU are so far very thin, with a sub-set of member states entering into only very loose commitments.
- The trade and wider ‘deep and comprehensive free trade area’ (DCFTA) policy in the neighbourhood suffers from glaring contradictions and lack of a sound analytical basis. There has been no adequate review done here. A policy rethink is necessary, without which good results cannot be expected.