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Perceptions of the Eastern Partnership. Dr. Nathaniel Copsey JMWEN and Aston Centre for Europe Aleksanteri Institute/Wider Europe Seminar Helsinki, 10 September 2009. Perceptions of the EaP. Within the European Union In the target EaP countries

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perceptions of the eastern partnership

Perceptions of the Eastern Partnership

Dr. Nathaniel Copsey

JMWEN and Aston Centre for Europe

Aleksanteri Institute/Wider Europe Seminar

Helsinki, 10 September 2009

perceptions of the eap
Perceptions of the EaP
  • Within the European Union
  • In the target EaP countries
  • Within external non-EU and non-EaP European states
within the eu
Within the EU
  • Usual divisions between Member States about how much should be promised to the eastern neighbours

- Southern MS keen to avoid promising much and diverting attention from Union for Med states

- Joined by the anti-enlargement chorus of Belgium, Netherlands etc.

- But, generally positive reaction, including from France and Germany

  • But there are also key divisions over what the policy amounts to as it stands and what it is actually for and these are linked to how the policy is perceived externally
within the eap countries
Within the EaP Countries
  • Once again, generally positive, at least in public, although the Ukrainians were again disappointed that the document included no reference to membership
  • Clearly not much more money on offer either
  • Attitudes vary between the other EaP states depending on the overall extent of their interest in EU integration, only Ukraine and Georgia (plus ostensibly Moldova) are obviously interested in joining the EU
within external partners russia
Within External Partners – Russia
  • Russia very critical of the EaP in public; EaP ‘forces countries to choose between Russia and the EU’
  • Open criticism of perceived EU attempt to increase its influence within a region it regards as its ‘privileged sphere of influence’
  • Yet is this simply just an ‘automated response’?
  • After all, EaP is unlikely to change anything radically in the near future and Russia also has a record of productive (and quiet) engagement with the EU in cross border projects when it suits it to do so
within external partners russia1
Within External Partners – Russia
  • Yet the EaP appears more threatening to Russia than it is for two main reasons
  • 1) A shift away from principles to interests Realpolitik
  • 2) It includes Belarus for the first time in some shape or form
  • Also undermines the perceived failures of Russian foreign policy, notably the fact that no one has joined it in recognising the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia
  • Plus associations with the EU–Ukraine deal to modernize the Ukrainian gas network to the exclusion of the Russians (although this may turn out differently)
so what does the eap amount to
So what does the EaP amount to?
  • Formal recognition that the EaP states are ‘Europeans’ and not ‘neighbours of Europe’
  • Substantive content may also be important, however, the EU has to be perceived as making key progress on, for example, integration into single market, energy security, visa-free travel and in supporting the socio-economic development of the EaP countries
  • Benefits should be seen not only by the EaP but also by the EU states – or even just EU companies investing in the region
  • Whether this will happen is, on past form, more doubtful
perceptions concluding points
Perceptions: Concluding Points
  • Yet disagreement persists about what the policy is and what it is for both within and without of the EU
  • Is the EaP about power politics? No – and yes. Officially no, but scratch the surface in Poland or Lithuania and geopolitical/power politics arguments are not far below the surface
  • There remains an ‘emperor’s new clothes’ element to several EU policies (and this is one of them) where Brussels is unable to recognise that there may simply be no interest (or trust) in what it is offering
  • Or a staggering naivety about what it is possible to persuade the rest of the world to do
  • Perceptions are of vital importance to the success of the policy since as matters stand, the EaP countries and the EU are being invited [again] to take a leap in the dark
  • Needs successes in the near future and the policy needs to be seen to work – overwhelmingly this is the challenge