By Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2015


An “arc of instability” stretching from the European Union’s (EU) eastern borders down to the Mediterranean basin has undermined its flagship European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). This policy was designed to deliver prosperity, stability and democracy to countries surrounding the EU. It has manifestly failed and needs to be radically rethought. Starting with a tabula rasa, the EU should abandon the very concept of a homogeneous “neighbourhood” in the face of glaring differences among the 16 countries affected, not least because some are uninterested in reform; others may even be failed states. EU member states are themselves pursuing divergent interests and goals.

A fundamental review of the ENP should lead to more differentiated, targeted measures to promote “transformational change” within neighbouring states ready to accept it. The EU should offer revised incentives such as participation within the proposed “energy union” or freer trade designed to aid local economic development. It should embrace a wider range of actors, including civil society, promote entrepreneurship and help reform countries’ police and military forces. The review should reassert common EU institutions in negotiating and working with neighbours and give them a central role in preventing and resolving conflicts as well as promoting democratic reform and economic stability. This revised ENP should help underpin the EU’s efforts to forge a genuine Common Foreign and Security Policy.