Tanja Anita Börzel, Vera van Hüllen | 2014

One voice, one message, but conflicting goals: cohesiveness and consistency in the European Neighbourhood Policy

in: Journal of European Public Policy 21:7, 1033–1049.

The failure of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in bringing about democratic change in the European Union (EU)’s neighbourhood starts with the EU’s limited effectiveness in shaping outcomes of international negotiations according to the ambitious objectives it pursues. This paper argues that this is not primarily a problem of a lack of actorness, however. The EU does have one message and speaks with a single voice but pursues conflicting goals. Rather than the lack of internal cohesiveness, it is the ENP’s substantive inconsistency in seeking to promote effective and democratic governance that undermines the EU’s external effectiveness. While the ENP conceives of the two objectives as complementary, the democratization of (semi-)authoritarian countries entails the risk of their destabilization at least in the short run. As a result, promoting effective and democratic governance become conflicting objectives. The lower the level of political liberalization and the higher the instability of a country, the more ineffective the EU is in asserting a democratic reform agenda in the ENP Action Plans, clearly favouring stability over change.

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