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Resetting the Neighbourhood Policy or can the EU learn geopolitics before it’s too late

European Union
Foreign Policy
Regionalism
Ken McDonagh
Dublin City University
Ken McDonagh
Dublin City University

Abstract

It seems counter-intuitive to view the EU through the lens of revisionism. Rhetorically the EU’s Eastern enlargement and its successor the Eastern Partnership have always been constructed in terms of rapprochement and consensual engagement, open and inclusive rather than aggressive and exclusive. However as the violent consequences of the Association Agreement with Ukraine have shown, the benign self-image of the EU is not always shared by its neighbours, friendly or otherwise. Both before and after the Maidan, the Ukrainian government sought concrete supports both economic and military from the EU. Meanwhile Russia has made no secret of its view that the EU is engaged in a geopolitical play for control of the former Soviet sphere of influence. Similarly to the South, where the EUROMED partnership focussed on technical cooperation the EU has found itself unable to respond to the ongoing migrant crisis produced in no small part by conflicts to which EU member states have greatly contributed. In both cases, the EU is reacting to revisionist actors both internally, in the form of member states jostling for influence or acting independently, and externally, in the form of uncooperative (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey) or outright aggressive (Russia) counterparts. This paper sets out to examine the EU policy response to these challenges, placing a particular focus on the level of incongruence between the EU’s projected self-image of a normative power and its intersubjective image where friends and enemies alike contest that self-image. It will argue that this failure to recognise its own revisionist role in European geopolitics has inevitably led to the failure of policy initiatives such as the Eastern Partnership.