In 2004, the European Union proposed a project entitled the European Neighborhood Policy as a new strategic option. The project had been adopted by the European Council one year earlier in a proposal to the concerned states. The European Neighborhood Policy proposes the development of the scope of cooperation between the European Union and the southwestern Mediterranean countries through several political, economic, social, and cultural fields. Yet, the sphere of security is set at the top of its priorities. It is based on the principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, as well as on establishing security and stability between the countries on the two shores of the Mediterranean neighboring Europe. This would be based on a common framework and a larger volume of mutual cooperation that is embodied in a genuine partnership that would confront common challenges. The study explores and provides an answer to the following question: To what extent can the European Neighborhood Policy be considered a representation of regionalism and the embodiment of a genuine European desire through which it would be able to build a “security group” in the Mediterranean basin?

The Concept of the European Neighborhood Policy

The expansion of the European Union (EU) in May 2004, as well as the reshaping of its new external borders, have led to the emergence of a new approach concerning relations, known as the European Neighborhood Policy.1 Such a new approach aims at promoting good neighborly relations by intensifying political dialogue and by deepening economic integration, in accordance with the objectives of the European Security Strategy.

Security-building in the neighborhood region, forming a convened group of friends, and protecting European borders are some of the factors that spurred the EU to give serious consideration to putting forward a new bold policy as an attempt, from its side, to revive the partnership with Mediterranean countries and to give it a new lease of life. However, this time, by the inclusion of these countries into a wider geopolitical space that is not only restricted to the countries bordering the Mediterranean, it sought to strengthen its relations with partners in the east and south. In 2004, the EU proposed a project entitled the European Neighborhood Policy as a new strategic option. This project had been adopted by the European Council one year earlier in a proposal to the concerned states.

The European Neighborhood Policy proposes the development of the scope of cooperation between the EU and the southwestern Mediterranean countries through several political, economic, social, and cultural fields. Yet, the sphere of security is set at the top of its priorities. It is based on the principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, as well as on establishing security and stability between the countries on the two shores of the Mediterranean neighboring Europe. This would be based on a common framework and a larger volume of mutual cooperation that is embodied in a genuine partnership that would confront common challenges.

This study explores and seeks to provide an answer to the following question: To what extent can the European Neighborhood Policy be considered a representation of regionalism and the embodiment of a genuine European desire through which it would be able to build a “security group” in the Mediterranean basin?

The EU Internal Security Agenda, within its own borders, necessitates stability in the neighborhood directly adjacent to EU from the south and the east. These areas suffer from several protracted conflicts, as well as being at risk of stirring up other embedded conflicts, the fact of which resulted in the EU’s serious consideration of a “peace-building” project in the neighborhood (Mirimanova 2010, 1). It is an ambitious project that consequently led to the publication of an official document by the European Commission in March 2003 (Schneider 2010, 130): Wider Europe and Neighborhood: A New Framework for Relations with our Eastern and Southern Neighbors (COM 2003, 104). Later, it was called the New European Neighborhood Policy. Consequently, it was launched by the Chairman of the Committee, Romano Praudi,2 in November 2004, and approved by the European Council (Attina 2004, 16).

The Neighborhood Policy is based on a comprehensive cooperation inspired by the “neighborhood philosophy” and expressed in Praudi’s famous saying: “Everything but Institutions” (Urdy 2004, 60). It allows the EU to establish a new scheme for its preferential relationships with other states and draws a new hierarchy of areas of the main partnership for the EU. This European project of cooperation with some of the so-called “neighbors” derives its inspiration from the mechanisms that had been used with membership pre-accession candidate countries in the EU. It aims to get them ready for accession to final membership of the EU (Overhaus, Maull, and Harnish 2006, 3). Yet, it is not necessarily a pre-nomination process.

This policy was also formed under great pressure and profound changes and transformations within Europe and beyond. Upon the significant expansion of the EU by ten countries in May 2004,3 the EU’s external borders expanded to the extent that “Today, we have got new neighbors and we have become closer to the ancient ones” (European Commission 2004, 2). A deep concern is arising in relation to the political “gray areas,” not to mention other external developments that not only enhanced the importance of neighborhood relations to the EU but also led, at the same time, to complications in light of the new security environment after the events of 11 September 2001 (Overhaus et al. 2006, 3–4). Therefore, the European Neighborhood Policy came into existence as a response to these new challenges and to support efforts to achieve the underlined goals of the European strategy for security.

The EU’s objective beyond this policy is to develop preferential relations with its neighboring countries in both the east and south according to the rule of “Autodifférenciation.” It also aimed to share the gains of the 2004 expansion with the partners in order to achieve stability and security for all peoples concerned, as well as to establish a space for prosperity and good neighborliness based on the values and standards of the EU (European Commission 2004, 3). The launch of the Neighborhood Policy can be seen as a clear demonstration of European awareness of the new rift with its eastern and southern frontiers. Such a rift was impossible for the Barcelona Process to avoid even after a decade since its launch. Therefore, the European Commission confirmed that one of the basic neighborhood policy objectives is to avoid new rifts between the new enlarged EU from one side and its neighbors from the other, and also to allow them to participate in several activities of the EU within the framework of enhanced political, security, economic, and cultural cooperation. In this way, the presence of a Mediterranean dimension is firmly confirmed within the European Neighborhood Policy.

As for the proposed approach to achieve the above-mentioned objectives, it is the cooperation between the EU and its partners that leads to a bilateral tendency, paving the way towards bilateral relations (Penebianco 2010, 162) in order to identify a set of priorities, and once they are achieved, they would result in bringing these countries closer to the EU. Such priorities are integrated by executive action plans dedicated to each particular country; these action plans are to be concluded by negotiating with each country separately. If these schemes are built according to a common base, they should take into account the national particularity of each neighboring country and specify, in a hierarchical order, the goals to be achieved. The pace of financial support is directly proportional to the pace of this partner country’s achievement of the specific strategic objectives that have been set. Accordingly, progress by each country is assessed by partnership committees and technical subcommittees (Urdy 2004, 64). The main objective of the EU policy is to ensure a stable and secure prosperous environment in the eastern and southern neighborhoods of the EU, as well as in the south Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia), without the full integration of these neighboring countries that necessarily form “a surrounding ring of friends and a buffering zone to the European Union borders” (Provenzano 2016, 10; see also Herdina 2007, 39).

Accordingly, in the event on this approach, the extent to which their commercial, economic, and political cooperation can reach is “to share in almost everything but for the institutions” (Comelli 2005, 10). In other words, the European Neighborhood Policy includes long-term, well-established, and profound relations with neighboring countries without their pursuit of EU accession. This policy in particular includes broad participation in the internal market of the EU, cooperation in crises prevention as well as wise management of immigration and crises, and, ultimately, they will enjoy four freedoms (the free movement of goods, persons, services, and capital). Yet, in their turn, these countries should perform serious political, economic, and institutional reforms. Thus, such relations are mainly based upon the principle of “conditionality” (European Commission 2015).

The “conditionality” principle of the European Neighborhood Policy has been stressed according to the rule: “We demand that you become like us, and to support us, but you should not exist on our territory; resemble us without being a part that belongs to us” (Henry 2004, 15). This is done via a motivational method by which the Europeans invite their partners to get closer to typical practices in some specific areas, and in return, the EU would grant them wider scope of cooperation as well as greater financial means (Urdy 2004, 64).

The Mediterranean Region and Establishment of the Security Factor

The Norwegian scientist Iver B. Nauman was the first to use the term “region building” as a good reference point for considering that the regional framework rather than the nation-state appears a more convenient form for social gathering in the political space of Europe, and also a good approach with which to deal with the issues raised in light of the European Neighborhood Policy (Tassinari 2005, 15). Similarly, Karl Deutch believes that states could develop a coherent integration between them to the degree of reaching a sense of collectivism. This means that the citizen should sense the meaning of “we,” which was expressed by Deutch by the expression “We-feeling.” Consequently, a common sense is developed that the differences among all parties can be resolved by peaceful means, on the one hand, and the use of the military or violent options can be abandoned, on the other. As intensive interactions lead to social integration, these in turn result in common institutions as an end result of building the “security community” (Attina 2000, 6).

In accordance with the above-mentioned, and based on the concept of the “security community,” which represents clusters or several countries creating a certain level of cooperation between themselves, this would make the possibility of violence against each other unlikely. In this way, they are also motivated to create mechanisms that protect them from internal and external risks, and this enhances the security of the community as a whole and anticipates peaceful changes. It is difficult to imagine a “security community” in the enlarged Europe, because “security communities” are not automatically created structures. Rather, they are an outcome of dynamic and positive relations amongst power, ideas, intensive interactions, and social learning. They also result from the activities of the main actors (political elites, individuals as well as global and regional institutions). They need ideological and material resources to develop political reasons, in addition to a genuine desire to build collective identities (cognitive regions) (Moschella 2004, 59). The latter means sharing values, identities, and standards, which leads to the building of bridges of trust and security. It is noteworthy that in Europe‘s broader contact, insufficient attention is paid to the actors: political representatives, institutions, and civil society. Thus, the regional contact in March 2003, for example, was characterized by a minimum, if not a total absence, of the institutional level, for there were no provisions dedicated to the institutions responsible for the implementation of the European Neighborhood Policy (Moschella 2004, 59). In other words, it lacked the necessary institutional structure or, rather, the legal mechanism, because the conventions of good neighborliness are based on traditional cooperation between governments. They are also managed by the joint committees that take decisions in accordance with mutual understanding. Accordingly, the European Neighborhood Policy is working within the framework of national sovereignty rather than a framework of “supranational sovereignty.”

In practice, any regional integration process is based on the axiom of developing a sense of “joint ownership” towards initiatives among the constituent parties of the region (Moschella 2004, 61). In fact, the “development of sub-regional cooperation” as well as the sense of “joint ownership” are issues raised with a significant emphasis in the Strategy Document of the European Neighborhood Policy (Moschella 2004, 59). On the other hand, the parliament underscored the “geographical and political differences between the eastern and southern neighbors.” Therefore, given these differences, the cooperation seemed unlikely to be possible (Domorenok, 2004, 89). Therefore, there was a tendency towards the adoption of a bilateral approach (action plans for each country individually) rather than genuine regional cooperation. (Attina 2004, 16). This is what prompted the Ukrainian economics professor Vitaly Denysyuk to liken the Neighborhood Policy to “terminal regionalism” or rather “party-based regionalism” among the sixteen countries and the peripheral regions which are the least dynamic of the enlarged EU, that is, “party-based agreement” or a “terminal agreement” that reflects the core concern of the EU to create some “safe peripherals within its direct borders; peripherals that practice mutual reciprocals; receive some assistance and secure the flexible flow of border trade,” and ultimately become “good borders that do not export their problems or conflicts” (Denysyuk 2005). This idea was summed up by William Wallace: “The choice for the European Union was to know well whether it exports its security and stability to the South, or rather it imports the lack of stability from the southern countries,” then the Neighborhood Policy was embodied in the following answer: “Borders should be controlled rather than closed” (Wallace 2003, 4).

On the other hand, Emanuel Adler believes that the need to develop the collective sense of “we” is neither excluded nor confirmed clearly within the neighborhood policy, but it simply was absent. The Barcelona experience showed how difficult it is to remove cultural misunderstandings among the region‘s constituent parties and how much effort is required to make partners feel equal (Moschella 2004, 62). In the long run, the lack of a collective sense of shared identity, belonging to the region itself and the joint ownership of institutions, may convince neighbors of their asymmetric relations with the EU. This matter might lead to undermining the very basis of the neighborhood initiative over time (62). Consequently, the success of the initiative profoundly depends on the degree to which different identities/groups can address common threats as well as overcome problems related to regional instability and lack of security, in accordance with the adoption of one common principle (62).

Actually, what has been presented as a joint project is, in fact, a one-sided initiative that reflects a European egocentric vision for the EU in all fields, drafting rules and obligations that they encourage to come into force. Having the ability to act on tactical and organizational levels, dictating standards, and laying down a general path to be followed, the EU holds tight, keeping the classic patterns of leadership (Denysyuk 2005). Yet, its neighbors cannot participate in the process of setting up these standards or instructions (Chilosi 2007, 3).

The European Neighborhood Policy has clearly demonstrated the European security concerns that have been aggravated after the events of 11 September 2001. It is, just like the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, a method to recast “the other” “in the South and in the East, treating them just as an extension of the European “ego” (Lacroix 2004, 103). As if the countries of the south, the so-called “partners” are doomed to bear the consequences of being within the geographical neighborhood of Europe by adopting the policies that are set and resolved in Brussels without any participation from their side in the formulation process of such policies.

The tendency towards the securitization of the relations between the EU and its neighbors would inevitably lead, over time, to stripping and exposing the non-credibility of the political discourse, especially with respect to the support of strengthening the political dialogue between Europe and its neighbors. This could lead to counterproductive consequences, leading to a state of instability, instead of providing an opportunity to build a “Regional Community for Stability and Security.” In this case, the EU and its neighboring countries are considered as one “security complex,” a term defined by Barry Buzan as “a group of countries whose basic security concerns are linked closely with each other, which makes it impossible to consider realistically the security of one country in isolation from the other countries” (Isiksal 2002). Therefore, the EU, if it keeps presenting itself as the “one in charge,” as a powerful regional power, of stability in the internal and external environment, should ensure the stability of the neighborhood, a stability that its own internal security desperately needs. It is the EU’s duty to let security and stability prevail in this region (Biscop 2004, 27).

The Southwestern Mediterranean as a Theme for the European Neighborhood Policy (Arab Maghreb Countries)

Some European Mediterranean countries, such as France, Spain, and Italy, have convinced others of the need to include the southern Mediterranean countries4 in the new policy. In fact, these countries had some concerns that the huge decisive eastern enlargement characterizes a shift of the “center of gravity” of the EU towards the east. Thus, countries on the southern edge of the Mediterranean will be neglected. In addition is the fact that these countries are increasingly important and necessary in accordance with the post-September 11 context, which is characterized by the assumption of the threat of “so-called” Islamic terrorism that comes from the southern Mediterranean countries (Comelli 2005, 11).

The political–security factor of the EU policy was therefore based on the discussion of security threats, whether these threats are due to the environmental impacts of nuclear proliferation, illegal immigration, smuggling, or organized crime and terrorism. There was also a significant emphasis on the fact that the EU should be more involved in crises prevention and their management. It also would have to play an active role in resolving the Arab–Israeli conflict and the Western Sahara impasse.

The state of Morocco expressed its great enthusiasm for this idea once the new enlarged neighborhood of the EU was announced. In March 2000, Morocco further showed its desire to take advantage of the “advanced status” that it obtained in October 2008. As for the attitude of the state of Tunisia towards the neighborhood policy, it was of an “integrated partner,” tracking the course of its mutual relations with the EU. There was a different response from the state of Libya, which neither accepted nor refused and preferred the adoption of the policy of “let’s wait and see.” The position of the state of Algeria towards the policy, in contrast to its counterparts, Tunisia and Morocco, was characterized by a kind of hesitation and anticipation with initially Algeria not welcoming the European Neighborhood Policy. It feared participating in an ambitious and enlarged program, such as the neighborhood policy, which it would not take part formulating. In its view, such a policy would most likely be tailor made to suit the European countries and in accordance with their interests, and would, moreover, not take into account the views of recipient countries (Baghzouz 2009, 283). However, Algeria changed its attitude from reservation to accepting this policy in 2008.

In spite of the fact that the conditionality principle, stemming from European fears of the expansion of new security threats, led to the failure of European policies being projected onto the political situation in the southern bank countries of the Mediterranean, these countries joined the European Neighborhood Policy without responding, even at a later time, to the report of a commitment to the action plans that they had signed. This is because the formula of European conditionality embedded in such a policy created an atmosphere of distrust and fear among the southern countries (especially Algeria). Furthermore, it constituted a fundamental obstacle for the western–southern Mediterranean countries to integrate into this policy.

Since the launch of the European Neighborhood Policy, the institutions of the EU have been pushing the Arab Maghreb countries to play the role of “European Union border guard.” The activation of this external security mediation seems the best solution to avoid heightened criticism about the increasing use of violent methods to control the elements that slipped through the borders of Europe. In this way, the latter can put the southern Mediterranean countries in charge of the burden of possible slippages of control and of stopping of the process.

It is also because the relations between the two shores of the western Mediterranean are characterized by imbalance and inequality; the stronger party within the relationship would gain more benefits, while the weaker party (namely the southwestern Mediterranean countries) have never been able to put on the agenda their own concerns and aspirations when it comes to the European Neighborhood Policy. This weaker party gets only enough to ward off the risks that form a source or an entrance within the European borders. Its job in this policy is nothing but providing a security belt for the borders of Europe.

The European Neighborhood Policy and the Issue of Illegal Immigration

Immigration has recently become one of the main manifestations of European relations with the outside world. Thus, “immigration management” is chiefly considered a security issue that needs cooperation and coordination processes at the highest levels and with the most effective actors (Ceccorulli 2009, 2). The only possible way to mitigate its consequences can be achieved through joint action. Securitization of Immigration was adopted during the 1980s within a social and political discourse that considered immigration as a security issue. Immigrants were perceived as a threat to culturally defined national identity, in spite of the fact that previously they were subject to economic processes, and were considered “expatriate workers” (Battistella 2003, 453). In accordance with Didier Bigot, the power of shaping the content of the discourse changes the social implication of the concept of immigration according to the following: “Immigration is a major security problem for Europe,” which the latter transforms, thanks to the power of speech, into a security issue that should be solved by special means. Consequently, the concept of security becomes a reflection of a threatened reality in itself, rather than an objective concept (Bigot 1998, 33).

In its pursuit of dealing with illegal immigration, which is considered a new threat to European security, and within the scope of controlling this phenomenon in the territories of the outer borders of the neighboring countries, the EU adopts the idea of establishing a “protective belt” on the territory of its neighboring countries. This idea is actually interpreted as making these neighboring countries constitute “isolation areas” in which the newcomers to Europe are subject to a restricted filtration process to deny their access once they seem unwanted and unable to be accommodated by the EU countries (a matter that obviously contradicts the principle of free movement of people). Consequently, the way in which this phenomenon has been addressed—in accordance with the Europeans’ own point of view—would not be highly successful unless it had recourse to a form of “transformed security treatment” in other external parties through a “pushing outward mechanism”5 of all the negative effects of the Neighborhood on the security of the EU. It is a European approach in which this mechanism is based on the assumption that the control of the external conditions is gradually reduced from the outside in the case that jointly integrated strategies are adopted (Schmitter 2007, 1). Therefore, the EU policy is profoundly interlinked with EU interests to enhance its own prosperity and security by turning neighbors into allies, as well as by raising problems as being collective ones so that they necessitate collective solutions (Zaiotti 2007, 65).

As a result of the above mentioned, the issue of immigration was top priority and the most important topic on the dialogue agenda with the southern countries. Neighboring countries, such as the Arab Maghreb, in particular, constitute a major source of immigration as they are both departure and transit countries. In order to address such a growing challenge, the EU has intensified the dialogue with partners, in particular with the southern countries. Furthermore, the EU has called for the promotion of legal migration and transport, particularly for certain categories of persons, such as students and skilled workers, as well as, on the other hand, the control of illegal immigration and people trafficking. At the same time, European countries are working, in an unannounced way, to transform the Arab Maghreb into areas of detention for illegal immigrants, or in other words, to become what are so-called “campers states” as in the case of Morocco (Valluly 2009, 326). In this way, the concept of partnership has lost its meaning, especially in its human security content, in the meaning that was initially intended to be achieved.

Revised European Neighborhood Policy in Response to the Changing Neighborhood

The neighborhood has witnessed some serious events that has led to it being less stable due to the crisis in Georgia in 2008, the conflict in Ukraine that resulted from Russian foreign policy in the east, in addition to the events that took place in the MENA starting with the 2011 Arab Spring, the civil war in Syria, as well as the conflict and conditions of lawlessness and insecurity in Libya. Instability has also been caused by the complex political changes in Egypt, the hostilities against Gaza in 2014, the escalation of the Islamic State (ISIS/Da’esh) terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, and the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015. All these factors of instability have had severe repercussions in the whole region. It also contributed to increased challenges that both the EU and its neighbors have had to face. Consequently, illegal immigration, refugee flows, and security threats have been exacerbated (European Commission, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy 2015).

Against the backdrop of these emerging events, the European Neighborhood Policy was revised in 20116 to designate a response to the events of the Arab Spring, which, due to the popular uprisings and their consequences, have resulted in further instability and major political upheavals. This response aimed at ensuring that the European Neighborhood Policy could more effectively support the establishment of an area of stability, security, and prosperity shared with other partners in the future (European Commission 2015).

In order to specify a framework for the definition of security, three key questions were asked with a special emphasis in order to facilitate the process of analyzing the security dimension after the 2011 events: Security for whom? Security from what? Security for what?

“Security for whom?” refers to the issues that should be addressed for security according to the old version of the European Neighborhood Policy in 2003, in relation to an “enlarged Europe.” It stipulates that “The Union’s ability to provide security, stability and sustainable development to its citizens will not be distinguished from its interest in achieving close cooperation with its neighbors.” In this way, security was clearly defined as a shared public interest for EU citizens within the shared responsibility of the neighborhood. However, in the revised version of the European Neighborhood Policy, the security clause implicitly relates to adopting a new approach based on the notion of: “[R]egular action is no longer been an option. We want to make our neighboring region a safer place and to protect our interests” on the grounds that the continued stability of the neighborhood after 2011 can directly affect the economic, geopolitical, and security interests of the EU (Fontana 2016, 7).

In both versions of the European Neighborhood Policy, the question “security for whom?” is deeply rooted in the issue of threat and interdependence on the basis that the world is divided into secure and insecure spaces. In such a context, the EU appoints itself at the heart of this space to nurture its stability with the idea of its own interests. Furthermore, it struggles not to import instability from “others” (Fontana 2016, 7). Yet, in the first European Neighborhood Policy version (that before 2011), security does not appear as a tool to protect European core values, but emerges as a value and an end in itself, by creating a region of political stability that would represent the main objective of ensuring its existence. Accordingly, the topic discussed is rather the relationship of “security versus normative values.”

The second question refers to the dangers that must be tackled, “security from which threats?,” whether they are mutual, shared, or rather cross-border threats. Such threats have always been the cornerstone for the Neighborhood Policy, given that the EU is exposed to multidimensional and transboundary dangers. This is a matter that proves the interaction between internal and external security matters and which became even more significant after 2011.

The revised policy not only clarifies the issue of the obvious connection between the internal problems of the neighborhood and the security threats to EU borders (Fontana 2016, 7), but also the policy has recognized problems such as long-term repressive regimes which were overthrown, protracted military conflicts and violence in Syria, etc. as direct security challenges to the EU, as long as they result in cross-border security threats. Such threats include illegal immigration, terrorism, and organized crime that are actually a reflection of neighbors’ internal problems. It is also noteworthy that while the original version of the European Neighborhood Policy mentioned threats such as terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, global crime, fraud, pollution, and illegal immigration as equally important threats. In the revised version, illegal immigration seems to be at the top of its main concerns. The revised version has considered safe and legal mobility, while addressing issues of illegal immigration, human trafficking, and smuggling as its top priorities. The regular and irregular movement of people towards Europe is clearly defined as a source of insecurity for the EU and a basis for other problems such as smuggling. In general, the revised policy was conveyed via the logic of “securitization,” a thesis made good use of to provide intrinsic means to justify that the EU should strengthen its engagement with the Mediterranean Neighborhood (8).

The third question deals with “security by any means or through any way?” All the principal documentation of the Neighborhood Policy is based on speeches concerning “shared burden,” “mutual responsibility,” “common interest,” and “close cooperation.” The basic ideology adopted by this policy lies in the fact that “interdependence” is the cause as well as the solution for all the common cross-border security threats. Therefore, the EU will be able to manage the issues that arise within its external borders only if it works closely with its neighboring countries (9).

The new policy includes a “more for more/offer more to get more”7 approach based on “positive conditionality” (Behrm 2012, 18). In other words, this means that if partners introduce more democratic reforms, they will receive more financial and integral benefits. The matter that symbolizes the criteria for financial allocations must reflect the principle of equal differentiation and preferences for all neighbors, wherein it is their performance upon which they are evaluated rather than any other geopolitical interests of the EU.

However, the incentive-based approach and “more for more” conditionality proved the fact that the incentives were not enough to create a commitment to reform in the absence of real political will.

The new European Neighborhood Policy would not be workable unless it truly cares for human rights. In the past, it has favored the short-term stability of authoritarian states at the expense of the legitimate rights and aspirations of peoples. Hence, the credibility of the EU and its member countries is undermined (Lehne 2014, 10). Consequently, upon readopting the old approach—namely, the silent European collusion with despotic authoritarian regimes to gain, in return, cooperation in controlling their citizens and extreme religious tendencies—is something that concerns the EU most. This approach will tarnish the concept of democracy in the southern Mediterranean countries and jeopardize the democratic progress in the years ahead. The real challenge is to reach harmonization between the declared principles of the EU, on the one hand, and its actions and short-term interests, on the other. Accordingly, the EU has to support the choices of people who favor human rights and democracy.

Conclusions

The EU strives, through the Neighborhood Policy, to control the negative effects of the neighborhood on its security that emerged as a result of the enlargement that it instituted. Therefore, there is a necessity to widen the distribution of liability on both sides of the lines of separation, namely, the EU and neighboring countries. This could be achieved through the institutionalization of the borders, through their management in a way that involves others and leads to shared responsibilities in accordance with special discriminatory standards and by pushing the “nearby neighborhood” to confront threats which the whole region faces. As a result, the Arab Maghreb countries, in particular, have become the EU’s border guard. However, sharing this burden will not be achieved without the establishment of a “joint ownership” principle, as well as assuring actual involvement of the Mediterranean partners in defining the common legal and judicial security agenda of the Mediterranean.

The European approach to deal with the issue of immigration from a security standpoint significantly contradicts with the principles of democracy and basic human rights. By excluding freedom of movement for people in its relation with the southern bank, the EU jeopardizes other freedoms (freedom of movement of goods, freedom of movement of services, and freedom of movement of capital) and these will remain truncated. Given that people are deprived of the freedom of movement they need, regional integration will remain just a mirage. The matter raises the question: “How can a free trade zone be established by opening borders for goods, services and ideas while closing the same borders for the free movement of people?”

What we can say is that the European Neighborhood Policy can be described as “soft imperialism” or a “civilizing mission” that appears part of the West’s desire to export its institutional and cultural model, democracy, human rights, rule of law, and market values—in other words, to “Europeanize” its neighboring countries by making them comply with the EU’s own standards, norms, and values. This means exporting the European experience through soft power tools such as financial incentives like European Neighborhood Policy. Consequently, the neighborhood policy, in its very essence, is a “security discourse.”

Therefore, the advantages of a revised European Neighborhood Policy would remain limited and subject to significant obstacles in reaching an effective formula for real partnership and cooperation which will help achieve security, stability, and development. It is therefore up to the EU to take a more active and efficient role in the pursuit of durable solutions to conflicts that impede its immediate neighborhood, poison the regional atmosphere, and serve as a breeding ground for chronic instability. The Palestinian–Israeli conflict, the Western Sahara issue, as well as other disguised conflicts not only could hinder the neighborhood policy but also lead to its failure. A solution should be based on active European diplomacy that can actually contribute to clearing the neighborhood of hotbeds of tension and conflict, in addition to putting an end to its instability.

2.

Praudi mentions, with reference to the process of enlargement of the EU: “What we have done on the first of May 2004 in Dublin was real success; we celebrated such enlargement, we felt it was a historic victory for Europe, all of us have felt the same. However, after a while the old nationalist ideas come back to the scene which granted new freedom to the countries of Eastern Europe. Then, in another stage, populist parties emerged.”

3.

Estonia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bologna (Italy), Hungary, Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta.

4.

Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya, Palestinian Authority, Syria, and Tunisia

5.

The term “Pushing Outward” here reflects two interrelated facts: exporting a policy to other countries, as well as pushing an internal policy towards the EU’s foreign policy, in order to reduce the effects of the external environment.

6.

This revised European Neighborhood Policy was proposed by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, at the request of the member states (over 250 contributions from member states). However, the profound serious circumstances in the region after the events of 2011 necessitated a further revision in 2015, following a public consultation organized with the participation of partner countries, international organizations, social partners, civil society, and university institutions. On 18 November 2015, a joint statement outlining the ENP revised edition was published. For more information, see European Commission (2015).

7.

This is done through the European Neighborhood Mechanism, 2014–20, which has a budget of €18.2 billion. It replaced the European Neighborhood and Partnership Mechanism (ENPI), 2014–20, which in turn succeeded the MEDA program (the principal instrument of economic and financial cooperation under the Euro-Mediterranean partnership) and other various programs such as Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States and Georgia (TACIS), as part of the reform of the European Commission’s aid agreements.

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