Replace ENP with a ‘cooperative framework’ that supports civil society

Replace ENP with a ‘cooperative framework’ that supports civil society

Given the differences between the countries included, the concept of a common European Neighbourhood Policy should be abandoned. We propose a cooperative framework which would involve a forum including, not only EU’s neighbouring countries, but also the ‘neighbours of the neighbours’. Support for local institutions within civil society, academia and private enterprise would be tailored to the needs of each country.


This proposal materialised from the discussions in the first EU as a Global Actor Roundtable at the Conference on the Redefinition of the European Mission.

What we have right now is seen as 'euro-centric'. Any new forum should be focused on each country's needs, concentrating on civil society and private enterprise. First impressions are key -- even a change in the name of the ENP will help change the impression of euro-centrism.

The partners in the 'forum' should guide the logistics and agendas of meetings, not Europe. This will be a new starting point for cooperation across the region.

This proposal does not take into account specific cases where the EU does not have leverage over its partners e.g. Libya's political vacuum and, by extent, lack of political dialogue to engage in a meaningful partnership. Relatedly, abolishing the 'more for more' incentive-based approach fails to offer an alternative. It is thus left in the open the way the EU would enhance its leverage in terms of promoting reforms and human rights in its relationship with the neighbourhood.

While it is arguable that a new EU approach to its neighbourhood is very much called for, it would be more credible to propose to improve the ENP than to tell the EU to drop the policy altogether.

While I agree that ENP needs to be abandoned, I would question the extent to which the 'neighbours of neighbours' ethos should be applied. Taking this way of thinking to the extreme would lead to a forum similar to a proto-UN, something that the EU has not signed up for. It is still possible for the EU and its members to engage in foreign relations with distant countries, but in terms of deep cooperation, this new framework should look closer to home.

Strongly agree with the focus on increased civil society support in terms of more diversification of actors and promoting cross-cutting regional civil society nexus to enable partner countries to independently emancipate themselves (replacing the EU's 'developmental policy'). By engaging with a more representative share of civil society organizations and ensuring their freedom and protection, the EU becomes better equipped to understand its partners societal idiosyncrasies (listen better).

The ENP is already subdivided along the Eastern and the Southern dimensions, with separate projects and funding instruments for each. The Eastern Partnership in particular has a regional and country specific dimension, with further divisions being added now with some countries joining the Eurasian Economic Union. While more individuation and tailoring within the ENP is certainly needed, it's unclear how this 'cooperative framework' will be different from a regional EaP framework, for instance.

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