The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has been rebooted. Launched in 2003 to strengthen relations with Eastern and Southern neighbour countries around Europe, the ENP has been criticised for years as unresponsive and having a “one-size-fits-all” approach. The revised ENP aims to be more dynamic, more tailored to individual countries, and more supportive of democratic reforms and sustainable economic development. Will it make a difference?

Can the revised ENP help promote stability? In the last few years, there has unfortunately been no shortage of conflicts in Europe’s neighbourhood; from Israel and Palestine to Armenia and Azerbaijan, the EU’s foreign policy towards such neighbourhood conflicts has often been criticised as passive, slow, and unresponsive.

This question has come up on the Conference on the Future of Europe platform, where Marco left a comment calling for a more engaged and active European Neighbourhood Policy:

Image of a citizenI am aware that the EU has a Neighbourhood policy. However, oftentimes there seems to be an understatement or denial of problems close to EU borders which could have negative repercussions for the EU.

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Carla wondering why the EU’s neighbourhood policy has failed. She points out that it’s unfair to blame the EU entirely:

Image of a citizenCertainly the [ENP] didn’t bring the results it was deisgned for, but we cannot disregard the global situation, the inequalities which conduct a paramount role in today’s crisis across the world. Mantaining stabile and prosperous neighours was a forward-looking and remarkable policy. The problem is that after many enlargements Europe should have focused more in safeguarding the new member states, enhance democracy and economic stability there. In addition countries like Russia operated to destabilize Eastern Europe (Georgia, Moldova,etc), not to mention the rise of islamists terroritic groups in Africa and MIddle East.

We also had Jovan, who wonders why the EU should care about conflicts going on in its neighbourhood:

Image of a citizen[Armenia] aid in the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, but who cares?

To get a response, we put these questions to Karen Melchior, an MEP with the liberal Renew Europe group, and Anna-Michelle Assimakopoulou, an MEP with the centre-right European People’s Party. You can see their responses in the video at the top of this post.

Is the EU too passive in conflicts in its neighbourhood? Should the EU stay out of neighbouring conflicts? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – ronstik

82 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Yes. Still reliant on the US as for the EUs own safety.

  2. avatar

    So, we have Cyprus: the EU has done exactly nothing for almost 50 years, it is still occupied by a non-EU country.The EU has no power whatsoever, neither political nor military.

  3. avatar

    Conflict (e.g. War) is business, and these days all kinds of big business is in some way global. If the EU is passive it is because it is in someones interest. Is it too passive? There is no way of telling without very deep analysis of all the involved details which will never be shared with the general public…

  4. avatar

    At this stage, EU diplomacy as a concept should be directed inwards. The EU is pretty messy internally, and this is should not be the case if you are looking towards a consistent foreign affairs. The external conflicts are handled well enough, given the players that participate in those, and the tools available. For me such questions point out one of the biggest problems of the EU- there isn’t enough consistency across the board. A lot of smaller problems are addressed disproportionately, while bigger issues are left aside. I do understand the diplomacy behind such approach- too many actors can’t reach consensus easily(if at all), so the debates are moved away(whenever and wherever possible) towards smaller issues. This is done with the hope that the bigger ones will decay with the time, and the parliament will be able to address them as their scope matches the ability of its members to present and sustain functional and constructive dialogue. This leads us to the core of the problem- most if not all of the member countries approach the EU elections as a poll for the moods of their electorates, and not as an actual chance to come up and promote EU wide policies. This fills the parliament with political outcasts, that even when competent enough, either do not have the support of the political constructs that promoted them, or are acting as a backdoor that aims to resolve internal political issues by moving those to ‘higher instance’. In both cases(competent or not) they don’t really know what, who and how they are representing, which ends up with a campaign driven approach in policy making, constantly interrupted by random statements/declarations- a nice thing on their own, but pledging allegiance to certain values from the height of the parliament podium, is PR and not policy making…so yeah, the EU needs to be taken seriously from its member first. Once that is there, we may start debating on foreign policies on case by case basis. Note the last one- unless you are introducing/investing in ideological warfare of some sort, there isn’t one size fits them all foreign policy, or lets be more active general guideline. Each conflict has its own background, requires dedicated intelligence, both as analytics, data collection, and on-site operatives. At the end diplomacy is only the tip of a pretty big iceberg, and honestly I don’t see the EU in the current state being capable of handling it in the next 50 years

  5. avatar

    A bit too “politically correct”, like in the Van Der Lien episode in Turkey that is unacceptable, as a leader and as a woman.

  6. avatar

    Too passive ? Europe sell a lot of weapons to different parties in many conflicts.

  7. avatar

    Neighbourhood, who’s that? Russia and UK are unmanageable (for different reasons). Norway is too rich to care. Turkey is on a weird trajectory but it’s not a problem per say, except perhaps for what it does on its own eastern borders. So what’s left 1) the Balkans, which I’d say should be top priority, it’s an anomaly that they are left out 2) northern Africa, which really has promising potential if we cared to support and be nicer to them

    • avatar
      Demetrios Velis

      You seem not to realize that Turkey occupies one third of EU member state Cyprus, which Turkey refuses to recognize as a state and that it has issued a casus belli against EU member state Greece if the latter exercises its legitimaste right to extend its territorial wates to the 12 mile limit as per international agreement on that matter. After reading the above you should be better informed.

      Furthermore, Turkey refuses to withdraw its proxy and actual military forces from Western Libya, thereby torpedoing the Berlin Process for ending the civil war in Libya and rendering the holding of national elections in Libya on June 24th.

      You rightly allude to Turkey’s invasion and occupation of territories in Syria and Irak but I shall help reminding you that it has also peovided Ajerbaijan with drones to help drive the Armenian forces out of much of their ethnic enclave in Nagorno-Karabagh while it mainatining ties with ISIS and the Sahel islamic militants and it has prevented by use of armed threats both Italian and French companies from helping in exploring and exploiting underwater gas and oil reserves in Cyprus’ EEZ.

      Do you still wish to adhere to the notion that Turkish foreign policy vis-a-vis the EU is of minor concern?

  8. avatar

    Most EU armies are also NATO. The problem is that, in spite of some being quite professional, normally they cannot work together without the Americans seting the pace and providing the equipment, the infrastructure, the intel necessary to liase and coordinate. EU lead missions are normally messy and poorly coordinated, each country competing to be in the spot light and pushing their own national agendas

  9. avatar

    The Afghani people get what they deserve since they are unwilling to fight for their own country and instead want Western troops to do the dirty dangerous work. No pity whatsoever.

  10. avatar

    20 years for what ? So many dead for what ? So many with psychological issues for what? So much money for what ? Paranoia!!!

  11. avatar

    Surely all great revolutions have been within. If the will to fight and die for a cause isn’t there, then outside influences hardly work. It seems that, only when a peoples can take no more oppression, that true revolution occurs. But now that the West has interefeered, (for who’s benefit is questionable) shouldn’t the West commit to sorting the problem once and for all.

  12. avatar

    Last time we got involved, it took us 20 years to go back to square one!! Perhaps we should get the message, that not everyone wants democracy or to be us, or like us. Live them alone, another North Korea. Sad yes, but it’s their choice.

  13. avatar

    Ban music from the airwaves? Make all women cover their heads and thighs outside? Lock heretics in containers until they smother?

  14. avatar

    Transfer all their peolpe to europe. Transfer all country to Europe better way to bring all the their problems here.

  15. avatar

    It’s their country let them sort their things out themselves.. We can’t always think that everyone needs to think alike

  16. avatar

    Encourage social economical reforms

  17. avatar

    Open borders, invite them, let them in, let them spread diversity in the name of human rights and democracy

  18. avatar

    Look the borders work with the alliance, let the terrorists outside from grecce and terkey. THE Greeks aren’t able to accept more people than 200.000 this is the maximum we already pass that number.

  19. avatar

    No aid unless they actually respect human rights. If they should be getting any aid is also a question. But it’s not easy leaving all the people behind.

  20. avatar

    Άντε ρε ξεφτίλες.

  21. avatar

    Tak to jest jak USA jedzie gdzieś pomagać

  22. avatar

    a UE vai fazer o que sempre faz, nada!vai esperar que os EUA assumam uma qualquer posição e vai atrás a abanar a cauda muito feliz…

  23. avatar

    The EU can’t do anything. Its comments on what to do and call for all parties to negotiate is the most pitiful thing one could read. The EU (but mainly its member states) have shown they’re completely powerless. They can’t have influence in Afghanistan, they can’t have influence in their neighbourhood, and can’t even protect its own territory from Russian aggression. Faith in the EU is completely lost at this point

  24. avatar

    Bomb them and make an international coalition and fight for human rights around the world before is too late !!!! And stop taking terrorists in European ground !!!! Or we will have more and more terrorist hits inside Europe

  25. avatar

    I would like the EU to deport back to Afghanistan all of its migrants now that the war is finally over. Just leave Afghanistan and stop meddling where you don’t belong. You can’t fix the world by force, and no one is asking you to.

  26. avatar

    At the moment humanitarian corridors are urgently needed

  27. avatar

    Now let them take care of their own affairs .. not to offer help to the other party that would fuel the other party’s anger. Possibly neutral attitude on both sides and also the EU.

  28. avatar

    How the world let’s something like this happen?

  29. avatar

    Send some feminists battalions

  30. avatar

    It’s a shame for all … to let down all Afghan people who believed and supported idea about better world… they are all now completely alone … what was the message sent… does anybody think about that

  31. avatar

    – Find the mandates and push through a legislation where you create safety camps for the victims; prioritize the elderly, sick and wounded. Give security and financial aid to the refugees, and create a provisoral governmental system in which you can prevent a civil war, where you invest and focus on granting educational help to the afghan civilians, and push for NATO to intervene with military force if the safeholds are ambushed by Taleban – before the country becomes a training ground for international terrorism. If you don’t – Taleban will strike Europe within the coming years, if only months – perhaps.

  32. avatar


  33. avatar

    Mmmm lemmy guess… Wave of refugees that somehow are our problem, terrorist attacks all over the place. Islamist apologist, terrorist apologist.I would suggest to ship all refugees to colone so they can have a 2nd “summer of love”

  34. avatar

    How should we react. Well we all knew this would happen before the pull out. The only ones who didn’t think are the leaders of USA and Europe.

  35. avatar

    The EU is too passive in all things. Even when It makes some right rules such as the non mandatory vaccination and discrimination and some governaments like Italy and France deliberatily breaks these rules with the silence of European institutions.

    • avatar

      Massimo Ortale

  36. avatar

    The EU unfortunately is now full of crap and run by sh’t. *bureaucrats*

    • avatar

      Paul Bradley says one from peace.

  37. avatar

    More Democracy in EU bodies also in economy

  38. avatar

    EU is PASSIVE in any conflict .. full stop!

  39. avatar

    We expect EU to be a power…. Not a weak partner unable to make its border respected…

  40. avatar

    It’s not just passive .it’s irrelevant.

  41. avatar

    The eu shouldn’t have a foreign policy it isn’t a country its a trading block. The 27 countries have their own foreign policy

  42. avatar

    Therese is still a step or two toward a federation before a common foreign policy. It will commo the sooner the better..

    • avatar

      Pedro Pais de Vasconcelos I agree, that is why we may not blame EU for the national governments being passive. Now it seems like the favorite game is to blame EU: when it makes rules and when it does not, when it takes a step and when it does not; sometimes in the same sentence they ask for more decisive decisions from the EU and to take the power back…

    • avatar

      EU blame game is not innocent. It was the main tactic for brexit. Same old song.

  43. avatar

    What is the main theme of this group, debating Europe or debating against Europe? If this becomes a trolling picnic, I’ll leave.

  44. avatar

    The EU us passive due to it not having the tools due to national veto rights.

  45. avatar

    Want to present a flight as a success is the high of a cowardly government in English.

  46. avatar

    Control Afghan migration. Limit migration to women and children. Help Massoud to fight talibans and finance bus tickets for Afghani who want to join Massoud

  47. avatar

    When EU is busy in conflicts in its neighbourhood, its NATO allies are talking to stab France at the back. Conflicts in EuroAsia is a plot to disrupt EU’s peaceful social, economic and political environment for the American great again.

  48. avatar

    The EU has no place to seek interests in non-EU countries. The EU should not actively nor passively, directly, indirectly, nor implicitly or explicitly try to influence non-EU countries to accept westernization. In the long term, this has very negative effects on Europe. Every people has their way of life. People cannot exist without a way of life. If the EU, Europe, or Europeans are seen as the primary threat or antagonist to the way of life of non-European poeples, it can only have negative interests on the EU and Europe.

    Furthermore, other powerful geopolitical actors such as Russia and China consider Europe as weak. This is due increasing societal problems in Europe without solutions, weak leaders and shortsightedness. Most important for the EU is to show to its own member states and its peoples that it can resolve internal problems and disputes. The time as come for the EU to show to its peoples that yes, the EU has the capacity and potential and political will to secure the way of life the peoples within EU borders.

  49. avatar

    I tend to see Europe is too active in joining the US by using an “one-size-fits-all ” approach to pressurize “democratic reform” and “sustainable” economic development” of sovereign and independent states. EU can never solve conflicts by superimposing a new political system and way of economic development of sovereign and independent states. If EU wants to help, it is better to adhere to the UN Charters and the purpose EU is formed. Both are established to avoid the recurrence of the third world war and solve conflicts with peaceful means.

  50. avatar

    Yeah, let’s get more active and start WW3 ! That would sort the covid situation out.

  51. avatar

    Nothing wrong with not escalating conflicts into war. We have one crazy country sold to their militaro-industrial system already, let’s not make the same mistake in the EU.

  52. avatar

    EU, stay away from conflicts !

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