The ENP Goes Back to the Game of Old Geopolitics
Initially built and envisioned in a very different context, the ENP was conceived as the EU’s alternative to traditional geopolitics. Following the successful enlargement process in 2004, the ENP borrowed its core tenets from it. From then onwards, the EU was supposed to promote structural reforms in its new partner countries, helping them to become full-fledged democracies limited by the rule of law, as well as functional market economies, which one day could possibly be part of an extended version of the European internal market. However, more than a decade later, the initial idyllic dream incautiously shared by Brussels’ bureaucrats seems to be shattered into the dust. During the last years, the relative stability of the periphery gave way to social and political turmoil in the south and the resurgence of Russia in the east. In other words, the EU woke up to a new reality in which “crisis was about to become the new normal” (Witney and Dennison). After years of pursuing an ill-advised policy with little practical results whereby its neighbourhood remains far from becoming an extension of its own internal market and liberal democratic values, Brussels and the punditry started asking the classical questions: what went wrong? Are the ENP-reviewed guidelines bound to be more successful? What has changed? While the answer to these questions will only become clearer with time, I believe the new ENP is better suited to address the pressing challenges of Europe’s near abroad. Its shift from a more idealistic approach towards a more realistic and tailored-made one, built upon the interests, conditions and willingness to cooperate with each “partner”, seems to be a step taken in the right direction. In a nutshell, this communication will look at the new ENP as a return to old geopolitics, in which the need for stability, rather than the advance of its liberal and democratic core values, becomes the key element of its architecture.
Tiago Branco Coelho . Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros