Point of View

The Enlarged European Union and its Eastern Neighbours: Problems and Solutions

The EU enlargement is scheduled to take place in 2004. After this date, it should be a priority for the EU to develop a coherent and comprehensive policy towards its nearest neighbours, i.e. countries bordering the Member States, which cannot join the EU in the nearest future due to their location or weaknesses of their political and economic systems. There are at least three reasons for this. Firstly, good relations with neighbours will underlie the broadly understood security of the Community. Relations with the nearest neighbours will determine both military security of the EU (including the combating of terrorism) and its ability to prevent other threats such as illegal migration, smuggling, etc. Secondly, good economic relations with neighbours may contribute to the Member States' economic growth in the longer term. And finally, the EU's ability to develop an effective and adequate policy towards its nearest neighbours will demonstrate its competence as a subject of international politics. In other words, the EU will not be recognised as a reliable political player in the global scene until it develops an effective strategy for its neighbourhood.

The most overlooked element in the EU policy towards neighbours and one that requires most attention is the eastern dimension of this policy, i.e. the strategy towards Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. This direction of the EU neighbourhood policy has clearly attracted heightened attention over the last two years, though it remains overshadowed by relations with other regions bordering the Community, including the Balkans and the Southern Mediterranean. During this period, a number of documents were published that addressed the question of the EU's future policy towards its eastern neighbours. The most important ones included: New Neighbours Initiative - Council conclusions (18th November 2002), Communication from the Commission "Wider Europe - Neighbourhood: a new framework for relations with our Eastern and Southern Neighbours" (11th March 2003), Wider Europe - New Neighbourhood - Council Conclusions (18th June 2003), Communication from the Commission "Paving the way for a New Neighbourhood Instrument" (1st June 2003) and "The Second Northern Dimension Action Plan (2004-2006)" proposed by the Commission (10 June 2003) .

These documents, however, reveal many gaps and unsolved dilemmas that have to be addressed before the EU can create a coherent and comprehensive policy towards its eastern neighbours. The present paper aims to pinpoint the most important of these and suggest potential solutions that would be optimal in the author's opinion. 

 

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