Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Politics

The "Securitization" of the Eap Policy in the Eu: The External Europeanization in the Wider Europe

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Politics

The "Securitization" of the Eap Policy in the Eu: The External Europeanization in the Wider Europe

Article excerpt

1 INTRODUCTION: EXTERNAL EUROPEANIZATION THROUGH THE EUROPEAN PARTNERSHIP

Eastern Europe (EE) has been a part of "Wider Europe" for the EU, although the institutionalization of the relationships with the EE has taken place relatively late through the stages of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and the recent Association Agreements (AA). Actually, the EaP region is the last extension of "Europe", as the European integration process - the "Europeanization" - has moved eastwards and it has recently reached this easternmost region in its very special forms of "External Europeanization". This "extension" of the EU, however, has been highly controversial process for both historical and geopolitical reasons. Historically, the contacts between "East" and "West" in the economic, political and cultural dimensions were rather weak, mostly frozen, for a long time that reached its apex in the Cold War period. The East was isolated from the dynamism of the EU due to a lack of intensive cooperation even in the aftermath of Cold War, and this isolation has only slowly diminished. Thus, the "European" perceptions and identities in the EaP states have been multiple and polyvalent. They are not "givens" nowadays either, because they have always been historically determined that has created a mental barrier between East and West with mutual ignorance. The identities of the EaP societies have been rooted in their socio-economic determination of the "longue durée" on one side, but they have lately been influenced by their specific EU context on the other. Simply said, their identity has become "European" to that extent as they could see a "European future" for themselves within the EU or at least with the EU. Although the EU in 2004 in ENP redefined "Europe" with its borders - the EaP with its six states in 2009 was also a practical definition -, the "European perspective" was not given for these countries, and it has not been given nowadays either.3

Geopolitically the EaP region has remained the "in-between" area under the dual influence of the EU and Russia. Russia was not ready to join ENP, therefore the EaP region with its six states has become an area of competition and conflict between the EU and Russia. What is the EaP for the EU, it is the "near abroad" for Russia. Nevertheless, the EaP analysis should not be reduced to the treatment of the EU-Russia relationship, since the EaP countries have their own historical trajectory and socio-political specificity that has to be taken into consideration (Table I), so their geopolitical situation cannot be simplified as the "dependence on Russia". Whereas in the nineties there was an increasing interest towards the EaP countries in the EU, it has turned to be one of the most contested issues in the 2010s due to their domestic crises and recently to the Russian authoritarian revival. In general, in the last decades there has always been some fluidity on both sides, and by now the EaP countries have reached the stage of high uncertainty and unpredictability in the quickly changing global environment. In the present situation not only the small socio-political elites have some kind of "European" identity connected with the EU, but much larger layers of their societies, first of all in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. All in all, it has become clear that the "Easterners" are behaving and thinking "European" to that extent they have been taken seriously by the EU.4

2 COHESION POLICY AS THE MAIN INSTRUMENT OF EXTERNAL EUROPEANIZATION

Cohesion policy is the main instrument of the EU for pursuing economic, social and territorial cohesion that has also been developed in the EaP case for providing security in its largest meaning for both sides. The effectiveness of cohesion policy within the EU relies on the institutional and administrative capacity of member states that has recently needed a renewal. This has been accomplished by the Sixth Cohesion Report (EC 2014) based on the principles of the on-going Rule of Law Initiative. …

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