The Lisbon Treaty established a competence for the EU to develop a special relationship with its neighbours, while also empowering it to conclude specific agreements with them. Therefore, Article 8 TEU seemed to finally provide a legal basis for the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) that had developed since 2003, mostly in an informal way, through soft law instruments. Notwithstanding all the expectations that Article 8 TEU provisions raised, these provisions have so far never been used as a legal basis for entering into new agreements with those countries, as had been assumed. The 2011 revision of the ENP provided an opportunity for a significant overhaul of the policy and could also have been used to reflect on Article 8 TEU. However, that did not happen. Also, Article 8 TEU was barely mentioned in the documents outlining the ENP’s revision. This chapter starts out by tracing out the process that led to the creation of the ENP and by analysing the policy’s legal nature. It then turns to Article 8 TEU as a possible legal basis for the ENP and for specific agreements with neighbouring countries. Finally, it examines the process of revision of the ENP and tries to explain why this failed to take Article 8 TEU provisions duly into account. Be that as it may, the EU’s neighbourhood is characterised by an increasing differentiation and heterogeneity, and the situation is moving farther and farther away from the model of ‘an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union’.
Result of a research project conducted within the framework of the Erasmus Academic Network LISBOAN.