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Carmen Gebhard, The EU Neighbourhood Policy in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 101 - 104

Regionalism and European Integration Revisited

1. Edition 2008, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4084-3, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1239-5 https://doi.org/10.5771/9783845212395

Series: Nomos Universitätsschriften - Politik, vol. 164

Bibliographic information
101 IV. The EU Neighbourhood Policy The idea of establishing a specific policy framework for the European neighbourhood entered the official EU working agenda in early 2002, while the negotiations for the 2004 enlargements were moving towards conclusion. The growing awareness about the geopolitical challenges that the ‘Big Bang’ EU enlargement was expected to entail built the major source of stimulation for this policy initiative. In contrast to previous enlargement rounds, this one was different in terms of size and territorial extent. Moreover, its geostrategic implications also added a new factor to the logic of the European project, which therefore entered a crucial stage. The upcoming enlargements were not only expected to bring the EU into direct contact with new areas of strategic interests. It was also becoming clear that the EU borders would eventually be shifted to the very eastern, and probably ultimate, limits of Europe, leaving outside a number of states that are unlikely to ever become candidates for formal membership. While the previous history of European integration had been one of permanent expansion, the EU had now come to the point where enlargement was about drawing lines of ultimate exclusion. In order to prevent the emergence of new dividing lines across the European continent, the European Commission set out to develop a respective policy framework that would help to “promote stability and prosperity within and beyond the new borders of the Union” and to enhance the establishment of a “ring of friends with whom the EU enjoys close, peaceful and cooperative relations.341 The ENP addresses all neighbouring countries of the EU that do not have a mid-term perspective for full membership. Therefore, it does not involve current candidate countries such as Turkey and Croatia, and until recently, Romania and Bulgaria, or the Western Balkans. Today, the ENP covers sixteen countries including Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia, and Ukraine. In April 2002, the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) posed a request to the then External Relations Commissioner, Chris Patten, and the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), Javier Solana, to elaborate ideas and suggestions for the EU policy towards its post-enlargement neighbourhood. The letter resulting from this inquiry was presented at an informal meeting of foreign ministers in September 2002, but did not get much political attention.342 The Copenhagen European Council first endorsed the political ambition to 341 See Wider Europe – Neighbourhood. A New Framework for Relations with our Eastern and Southern Neighbours. Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. COM(2003) 104 final, 11 March 2003, p. 4. 342 WALLACE William: Looking After the Neighbourhood. Responsibilities for the EU-25. London School of Economics, European Foreign Policy Unit Working Paper, 2003/03. London 2003, p. 2. According to exclusive sources cited by Mure?an, the letter was based on a British initiative with seminal contributions coming from Anna Lindh, then Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs. See MURE?AN Ioana: The European Neighbourhood Policy. A New Framework for Europeanization? In: MOIA Mihai (ed.): Working Paper of the European Institute of Romania, No. 15:2005. Bucharest 2005, p. 15. 102 take forward relations with neighbouring countries based on shared political and economic values, [...] to avoid new dividing lines in Europe and to promote stability and prosperity within and beyond the new borders of the Union.343 It also reaffirmed that enlargement would serve to strengthen relations with Russia and called for enhanced relations with Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and the Southern Mediterranean countries to be based on a long term approach promoting reform, sustainable development and trade. At the same time, the Council also emphasised the European perspective offered to the countries of the Western Balkans in the context of the Stabilisation and Association Process.344 In March 2003, the European Commission then launched its ‘Wider Europe’ Communication, which laid the ground for the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) framework, presenting its major rationale and specifying the methodology that the new policy should be based upon. The consideration lying at the core of the ENP initiative was that over the coming decade and beyond, the Union’s capacity to provide security, stability and sustainable development to its citizens will no longer be distinguishable from its interest in close cooperation with the neighbours. [...] “The EU has a duty, not only towards its citizens and those of the new member states, but also towards its present and future neighbours to ensure continuing social cohesion and economic dynamism. The EU should aim to develop a zone of prosperity and a friendly neighbourhood – a ‘ring of friends’ – with whom the EU enjoys close, peaceful and co-operative relations. 345 This ‘Wider Europe’ Communication was followed by a lively debate among the EU member states. In the course of 2003, drawing on the proposals that resulted from these discussions, a neighbourhood policy instrument was developed, destined to serve the implementation of the ENP in the field of regional cooperation. In view of the changing circumstances following the 2004 enlargements, the Commission decided to revise the array of existing financial instruments for regional development. The Communication “Paving the way for a New Neighbourhood Instrument” released in July 2003, addressed the issue of enhanced trans-border cooperation with partner states along external borders of the EU for the programming period of 2007-2013, pointing at the coordination problems caused by the range and variety of financial programmes.346 The implementation of the new instrument was organised in two phases. During the first transition period (2004-2006), the existing financial instruments (INTERREG, MEDA, TACIS, PHARE) were harmonised through the creation of so-called Neighbourhood Programmes, which were established either as new projects or as adapted succession programmes. To this end, projects involving partners from both EU member states and Russia/Belarus were imposed joint application, project selection and decision making procedures. The Baltic Sea INTERREG IIIB project, for instance, was converted into the “Baltic Sea Region INTERREG IIIB Neighbourhood Programme” as from 2004.347 343 Presidency Conclusions. Copenhagen European Council, 12 and 13 December 2002. DOC 15917/02, 29 January 2003, pt. 22. 344 See ibd., pt. 23-24. 345 Wider Europe – Neighbourhood. Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. COM(2003) 104 final, 11 March 2003, p. 3 and 4. 346 See Paving the Way for a New Neighbourhood Instrument. Communication from the Commission. COM(2003) 393, 1 July 2003. 347 For more details on the Neighbourhood Programme for the Baltic Sea Region, see the official programme website www.bsrinterreg.net [26 December 2007. 103 During the second phase of implementation beginning with the next budget cycle (2007- 2014), cooperation will be further enhanced with increased funding and harmonized instruments to eventually replace the existing programmes. The main idea behind the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) has been to remove the main obstacle to joint cross-border projects, i.e. the incompatibility of EU funding instruments, and to overcome situations where cooperation projects involving partners from inside and outside the EU would have to apply to different EU funding instruments, namely INTERREG for inside the Union, and e.g. TACIS for external partners such as Russia or Belarus.348 In recent years, the range and specificity of the existing financial instruments have caused considerable problems, since geographically they often operated in similar areas, but on different sides of the EU border. As a result, each project partner had to follow different rules and conditions for different funding programmes. In many cases, parallel projects in adjacent areas could not cooperate directly because the timing and availability of funds was largely asymmetric. To name an example: the Russian-Finnish ‘Culture-Savo’ project that aimed at fostering the cultural relations between St. Petersburg and South Savo (Finland) received INTERREG funding, but had to wait for one year until the TACIS funding was accredited. In the intervening period, the project partners found it difficult to build up cross-border relations to the extent they wished.349 By replacing the existing geographical and thematic programmes, this new approach to regional development funding aims not only to simplify administrative procedures but also to provide for genuine cross-border instruments. The joint programmes conducted in the ENPI framework will bring member states and partner states sharing a common border closer together, and thus, increase the effectivity of funding.350 In October 2003, the European Commission was mandated to prepare proposals for country-specific ENP Action Plans (APs) to be implemented by the end of June 2004. This practical step was followed by a broader conceptual input, the ENP Strategy Paper published in May 2004.351 It was intended to complete and elaborate the foundations of the ENP as laid out in the ‘Wider Europe’ Communication. In late 2004, the first seven APs were proposed for Israel, Jordan, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Tunisia and Ukraine. In 2005, the Commission started to prepare further five, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia and Lebanon. In late 2006, the Commission launched another significant communication on the “General approach to enable ENP partner countries to participate in Community agencies and Community pro- 348 Even though Russia decided not to be part of the overall ENP, and instead to opt for the formally different, but practically similar EU-Russia Common Spaces Partnership, Russian partners will also be eligible for funding in the ENPI framework. To this end, the name of the instrument has been changed from New Neighbourhood Instrument (NNI) into European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). 349 See website of INTERACT, Forum for the exchange of experiences in INTERREG Funding www.interact-eu.net [25 December 2007]. 350 For more details on the new financial instrument, see website of the EU on the European Neighbourhood Policy. http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/index_en.htm [25 December 2007]. 351 See European Neighbourhood Policy. Strategy Paper. Communication from the Commission. COM(2004) 373, 12 May 2004. 104 grammes.”352 The institutional design of the ENP has been criticised for its “optimistic reliance on the well-established model of enlargement” even though the circumstances conditioning the success of the ENP are very different from the pre-accession situation of the Central and Eastern European States.353 Another structural reference can be identified for the EU ND. The ENP built on the policy model of the EU ND, with particular emphasis on the advantages of the structural openness in the context of regional and sub-regional cooperation. The Northern Dimension currently provides the only regional framework in which the EU participates with its Eastern partners to address trans-national and cross-border issues. […] New initiatives to encourage regional cooperation between Russia and the Western NIS [Newly Independent States – Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus] might also be considered. These could draw upon the Northern Dimension concept to take a broader and more inclusive approach to dealing with neighbourhood issues.354 Another instance where the EU ND was explicitly mentioned as an exemplary model was the combat of environmental threats in the ENP framework. Efforts to combat trans-boundary pollution – air, sea, water or land – should be modelled on the collaborative approach taken by the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership.355 These structural references notwithstanding, the institutional role the ENP has taken over within the CFSP of the Union has nevertheless derogated the visibility of the North and the Northern agenda. The ENP stands for the general tendency of the EU of rather turning to the East and the unsettled South than to the decent and uncontroversial North. In fact, the challenges emerging from these geographical areas are far more acute, and thus, more essential for the Union to be tackled. The success of the EU’s performance in its disconcerted neighbourhood must be seen as a key factor to determine its international standing as well as its legitimacy and acceptance on the global scene. B. The EU Northern Dimension – A General Overview Policy issues specifically addressing the Northern ‘near abroad’ of the Union first entered the EU agenda when the Nordic Countries, and especially Sweden and Finland began to shift their political attention from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the more comprehensive European integration project and their future membership in the EU.356 However, not even the preparations for the Swedish and the Finnish accession in 352 General approach to enable ENP partner countries to participate in Community agencies and Community programmes. Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. COM(2006) 724, 4 December 2006. 353 See GEBHARD Carmen: Assessing EU Actorness Towards its ‘Near Abroad’. The European Neighbourhood Policy. Conference Paper, presented at the Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge in April 2007. Maastricht/Stockholm 2007, p. 18. 354 Wider Europe – Neighbourhood. A New Framework for Relations with our Eastern and Southern Neighbours. Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. COM(2003) 104 final, 11 March 2003, p. 8. 355 Ibd., p. 12. For a critical discussion of the structural references to the EU ND, see VAHL Marius: Models for the European Neighbourhood Policy. The European Economic Area and the Northern Dimension. In: CEPS Working Document No. 218/ February 2005. 356 See CATELLANI Nicola: The EU’s Northern Dimension. Testing a New Approach to Neighbourhood Relations? Utrikespolitiska Institutet, Research Report 35, Stockholm 2003, p. 2.

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Zusammenfassung

Seit 1989 ist es im Ostseeraum zu einer explosionsartigen Entstehung einer Vielzahl von regionalen Initiativen und Zusammenschlüssen gekommen. Der Ostseeraum weist bis heute eine europaweit einzigartig hohe Konzentration an kooperativen regionalen Strukturen auf. Diese bilden gemeinsam ein enges Netzwerk von Vereinigungen, die unter dem Überbegriff der "Ostseezusammenarbeit’ interagieren.

Diese Studie analysiert die Hintergründe dieses regionalen Phänomens oder so genannten „Ostsee-Rätsels“ auf Basis eines Vergleichs zwischen den Regionalpolitiken zweier staatlicher Schlüsselakteure, Schweden und Finnland, wobei der europäische Integrationsprozess als übergeordneter Bezugsrahmen für die Untersuchung dient.