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Just Good Friends? The European Union's Multiple Neighbourhood Policies


The EU's self-definition as an integrating civilian, democratic and legal space of political norms and economic regulation, without any significant military power structure, profoundly affects the conception of its neighbourhood policies. It tries to promote with its neighbours what it has achieved itself at home. While the EU has one explicit neighbourhood policy, there are no less than 13 concentric circles of graduated neighbourhood relationships surrounding its territory, with a continuous blurring of categories between them. The EU can be described as engaging in a policy of Eurocentric normativism. But does trying to make neighbours 'become like us' amount to an effective strategy? There is widespread agreement that although the enlargement process for accession of new member states has proved impressively transformative, the official ENP, sometimes called 'enlargement-lite', has not. Nevertheless, while the conditionality mechanism has proved weak in the absence of the accession incentive, the alternative of Europeanisation by socialisation might still work gradually in the longer term in the outer neighbourhood.