TEPSA Brief: The review of the European Neighbourhood Policy: Increasing the coherence and coordination of EU external action?, July 2011

By Simon Stroß,

The recent events in the Arab world triggered a call for more democracy in the Southern Neighbourhood and, together with the stagnating reforms in some of its Eastern neighbours, forced the European Union (EU) to thoroughly review its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Criticised for focusing on the political stability of neighbouring countries rather than on the promotion of democracy, the EU acknowledged that its former approach “has met with limited results”. The newly established European External Action Service (EEAS), which brings together officials and diplomats from the Commission, the Council and the member states and directly serves its head Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission (HR/VP), was supposed to play a key role in the review process. Ashton and her EEAS officials repeatedly stated that the ENP review is among the top three priorities of the service in its first year. In this context the question arises if the EU will use the chance to achieve one of the major objectives of the Lisbon Treaty, namely increasing the coherence of its external action. This concerns both how coherent ENP policy formulation is carried out in the EU system and to what extent the output of the review is coherent.

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