The central research question which this volume has posed is the extent to which Western Europe, meaning the European Union (EU) and its member states, has emerged as a strategic and coherent actor towards the countries in its immediate neighbourhood since the end of the Cold War. The various contributors to this volume have all naturally addressed this question in different ways, reflecting their own particular perspectives and those of the specific region or issue area for which they have had responsibility. This final concluding chapter does not seek to review and summarize the preceding chapters. Rather, it attempts to determine whether there emerges a broader and more cumulative picture from these contributions which identifies the EU as a strategic actor in its immediate neighbourhood and which can be viewed as something more than the sum of the EU’s various regional policies or dimensions. This is primarily an issue concerning the EU’s foreign and security policy, but it also has broader and significant implications for the identity and purpose of the EU, both internally in terms of its self-identity and its geographical expression (le finalité geographique) and also externally in terms of Europe’s status and role in the international order.
This concluding chapter has two principal sections addressing the following two issues. First, there is an assessment of the extent to which the EU has emerged as a strategic actor in its immediate neighbourhood and the strengths and weaknesses of this engagement. Second, the chapter examines the broader issue of what these findings tell us about Europe’s place in the world: its relationship with the United States, and in terms of international order.
Pál Dunay starts his chapter (Chapter 3) on East-Central Europe (ECE) with an affirmation of the strategic vision underlying the European integration project which pre-dates the collapse of Soviet power in Eastern Europe. This is expressed in Robert Schuman’s visionary statement from 1963 articulating the resolve to create a unified Europe which would be