The Newly Competitive Neighbourhood: European Neighbourhood Policy versus Russian Near Abroad Policy

Discussion, organized with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Andrew Wilson, ECFR policy fellow

Ivaylo Kalfin, Foreign Minister of Bulgaria 

Mark Leonard, Executive Director, ECFR

Nicu Popescu, ECFR policy fellow 

Patrick Child, Head of Cabinet of the Commissioner for External relations and European neighbourhood policy

Chaired by

Vessela Tcherneva, Head of ECFR Sofia office

As Europe’s troubled Eastern Neighbourhood has attracted fresh political attention in the aftermath of the war in Georgia, the renewed interest has not yet brought about a rethink of EU’s policies in this strategic region. The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Eastern Partnership initiative currently being discussed are poorly suited to the new environment. ENP is stuck in a mind-set formed in the 1990s, based on three key assumptions that have been overhauled by the latest events: that the EU is the sole pole of power in a concentric Europe; that Europe’s neighbours are keen to adopt its values and standards; and that this process is long-term and irreversible. All three assumptions have been recently challenged by an increasingly assertive Russian posture. This calls for a dramatic shift in Europe’s current set of policies and goals to be pursed in the neighbourhood.