Policy paper 160

Taking the European Neighbourhood Policy beyond the conception-performance gap

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has suffered from a conception-performance gap which is beeing reduced by the 2015 ENP review. The policy paper by Nicole Koenig identifies potential implementation pitfalls and presents recommendations for a more flexible, political and strategic ENP.

The policy paper by Nicole Koenig, research fellow in our office in Germany, the Jacques Delors Institut – Berlin, reviews the first decade of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), analyses the review of November 2015 and formulates recommendations for the policy’s future implementation. The paper argues that the ENP has suffered from a ‘conception-performance gap. Conceived to foster peace, stability and prosperity at the EU’s borders, the EU now finds itself surrounded by a ring of crises and conflicts.

The 2015 ENP review addresses the gap by lowering the policy’s ambition and seeking to improve its performance through increased focus, differentiation, flexibility and ownership. In practice, the ENP’s implementation will be shaped by four cleavages:

  • Pragmatic differentiation vs. normative indifference
  • New priorities vs. old quest for coherence
  • Static multilateralism vs. functional flexibility
  • Technocratic logic vs. geopolitical game

To address these and shape a more strategic and political ENP, the EU should full endorse variable geometry; effectively connect the ENP to other areas of EU external action; devise a political roadmap to keep the member states seized and engage more constructively with geopolitics.

This policy paper is also available in German.