CIAO DATE: 06/05

The International Spectator

Volume XL, No. 1 (January - March 2005)

Editorial Note

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is at the centre of this issue of The International Spectator. Four articles look at various aspects of the policy, assessing whether the Union will be able to achieve its goals of fostering a "ring of friends" in its periphery and gradually coaxing them to undertake the reforms needed for stability.

In the first article, Rosa Balfour and Alessandro Rotta examine the European Neighbourhood Policy's tools. The authors argue that the main innovations of the ENP lie in its methodology and instruments. In particular, the differentiated ENP Action Plans should allow the EU to make more careful use of political conditionality, rewarding neighbour countries that make progress along the path of reform. At the same time, the new European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) should overcome the rigid distinction between the internal and foreign policy domain, allowing the EU to see the new borders as an opportunity for cooperation rather than a barrier. Nevertheless, according to the authors, whether and to what extent engagement and political conditionality will be sufficient to address the root causes of instability and promote reforms in the neighbouring countries remains an open question.

In the article that follows, Nathalie Tocci takes up the same question, investigating how the new ENP responds to the challenges posed to the European Union by its southern and eastern neighbours. Tocci argues that, while this policy can serve to address the immediate challenges arising from new dividing lines in Europe, it fails to draw sufficiently from the lessons of past and present external policies. In particular, the absence of the prospect of EU membership and the lack of adequate incentives for the neighbour countries to undertake a difficult and costly process of internal reform and harmonisation with the EU acquis could undermine the policy's effectiveness. Such a failure could in turn have an impact on the EU's credibility in the region.

Dov Lynch addresses security-related aspects of the European Neighbourhood Policy. In particular, he analyses the specific security concerns raised by the countries included in the first wave of ENP Action Plans (in particular Moldova), those in the neighbourhood that are not yet part of ENP (Belarus) and those that have refused to join it (Russia). Lynch concludes that although the EU has at the declaratory level recognised the role of healthy security sector governance in ensuring the structural stability of states, in practice it has only provided its neighbours with support on an episodic basis. He therefore calls on the EU to make security sector governance a major plank in the promotion of security and stability on its borders.

In the last article in the group, Fabrizio Tassinari critically assesses the occurrences that contributed to determining a low in EU-Russia bilateral relations in 2004. Going over the four common spaces agreed upon at the May 2003 St. Petersburg Summit and the existing political and administrative inadequacies, Tassinari concludes that, in order to enhance their elusive strategic partnership, the EU and Russia must, among other things, treat each others as equals, be less enigmatic and more consistent in their bilateral relations, and pursue good neighbourly relations.

Completing the "Europe Forum", organised in collaboration with the Trans-European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA), are articles on two of the major institutional innovations introduced by the Constitutional Treaty. The article by Giovanni Grevi, Daniela Manca and Gerrard Quille deals with the potential opportunities and pitfalls of the EU foreign minister's role. The foreign minister is likely to be a major player in the European foreign and security policy. But the double-hatting, that is, the combination of the functions of the Commissioner for External Relations and those of the High Representative for CFSP could cause a conflict of interest, in that the foreign minister will have to gain the trust of foreign ministers in the Council while being bound by collegial rules and loyalties within the Commission. In order to realise the job's full potential, the authors warn, the foreign minister must be provided with adequate institutional and financial resources.

The next article by Andreas Maurer and Sarah Reichel focuses on the problems of developing the European External Action Service (EEAS) provided for in the Constitutional Treaty. This nucleus of a future European diplomatic corps is currently being sketched out by the European institutions. The authors argue that what is needed to ensure smooth and effective establishment of the EEAS and to prevent it from being torn apart by an institutional tug-of-war is a coherent master plan for its design and implementation. Such a scheme should be drawn up by a body like the 1989 Delors Group for the planning of monetary union. The authors suggest that the group should not limit itself to working out the final form of the EEAS, but should draw up a step-by-step multi-stage plan.

Leading off the Opinions section is an article by Natalino Ronzitti, who looks into the proposals on the crucial issue of the use of force contained in the Report of the High-Level UN Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. Ronzitti reviews the Panel's considerations on a number of related aspects, including self-defence, authorisation of the use of force by the Security Council, peacekeeping, peace-enforcement, and the role of regional organisations. The Panel Report supports, among other things, the thesis that self-defence can be exercised by a state when an armed attack is imminent, not only when it has already taken place (while rejecting the Bush doctrine of preventive war). Ronzitti feels that this interpretation of the notion of self-defence can be shared in light of the development of new weapons and threats and urges states to take a stance on this point to contribute to the development of international law. Finally, Ronzitti feels that it would be important for the European Union to offer a unitary response to the Panel's Report.

An interview by Simone Raudino and Eunice Rendon with one of the most authoritative representatives of American realism and the father of the "theory of hegemonic stability", Robert Gilpin, follows. In the interview, Gilpin remarks on how exogenous and endogenous factors move a state to action. Stressing that the psychological element, that is, the way a state perceives its action in the world is also important, Gilpin maintains that the Europeans lack the power to forge a common identity. The Americans, on the other hand, consolidate their unity through power. Yet, the distance between their actual behaviour as the world's hegemonic power and the way they perceive it is widening. This, Gilpin warns, could pave the way for increased selfishness, polarisation and corruption.

The next article discusses the elections at various levels now being held in the Occupied Territories. After surveying the results, Margret Johannsen argues that newly elected Palestinian President Abbas' mandate to act decisively against a renewal of the armed opposition will only translate into progress on the peace front if there is a corresponding resolve and capability on the Israeli side to deliver. Considering the conflicting time schedules and priorities of the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president, it is doubtful that a viable two-state solution can be salvaged without the international community, and above all the US, investing considerable political capital.

Finally, on the same subject, responding to Mark Heller's rejoinder "The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Clash within Civilisations" (no. 3, 2004), Pascal Boniface argues that the Israeli position is no longer sustainable from a moral point of view. While Palestinians have their share of the responsibility for the current dire situation, he feels that the main responsibility lies on the Israeli side and urges Europe to stop using a double standard to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.