From the CIAO Atlas Map of Europe 

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CIAO DATE: 03/02

Short and Long-Term Dynamics in the EU's Northern Dimension

Nicola Catellani

Copenhagen Peace Research Institute
December 2001


In the last decade the process of European integration has been characterised by an increased capacity of the European Union (EU) to develop a certain subjectivity on the international arena. In particular, the EU has been able to elaborate multifaceted approaches towards most of its neighbouring areas.

In the framework of the external relations of the Union the actors involved developed different sensibilities towards the politics of the neighbouring areas. In other words, there seems to be a rather clear-cut difference within the logic standing behind the approach that the EU as a system is developing towards the neighbouring areas, especially in the North. On the one hand, some of these actors, tend to see the politics of the "near-abroad" as something relatively set, that pertains to a large extent to a short-term view and that is made through traditional political tools. Other actors instead seem to perceive the politics of the "near-abroad" as something dynamic, not pre-given and unfolding over long periods of time in a flexible manner.

This paper will claim that these two distinct sensibilities emerge clearly in the framework of the Northern Dimension (ND). There seems to be a duality in the essence of the political dynamics unfolding in Northern Europe. On the one hand member states stress the importance of the substance attached to the initiative. Local projects, national interests, policies, priorities, resources allocation seem to pertain to a rather static vision of politics that has its natural environment in the short-medium term. On the other hand, the EU institutions, and in particular the Commission, seem to have developed sensibilities conducive to a more dynamic understanding of the "near-abroad" politics. The stress also put upon elements like policy frameworks, visions and multilevel governance pertain to the long-term vision that does not compete with the short-term understanding but rather complements it.