CUPRINS nr. 128


Politică internaţională: actori şi vecinătăţi

European Neighborhood Policy and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership
two approaches of regional cooperation in Europe


Loredana Enăchescu

Liberal democratic states have succeeded in building security and stability at regional level through partnership and cooperation. The security communities set up with organizations such as NATO or more recently the EU, while remaining two different institutions, have promoted special relationships with countries situated in the immediate vicinity of their boundaries so as to enhance trust and intensify interdependencies amongst them. This has been both a prerequisite for preserving security at the borders and projecting a soft power of engaging other nations in mutual cooperation and common projects.

Keywords: partnership, cooperation, building stability,
promoting democracy and human rights, assistance, integration

1. Building regional rings of cooperation and partnership

NATO and EU have evolved as two distinct international organizations with different and clearly separated functions at international level, created as a result of the geopolitical situation after the Se cond World War. They have undergone a process of transformation after the geopolitical changes brought by the end of the Cold War.

Their specific area of activity was different at the outset, nevertheless with the evolution of the security, political and economic international environment these two institutions have drawn closer to one another. Firstly, both NATO and the EU share a number of 21 common members and have established different advanced arrangements of cooperation with the European, Euro-Asiatic and Mediterranean non-members. Secondly, the range of issues and the approaches have increased and diversified for both organizations in the same time with increasing their geographic area. Thirdly, experts have observed a growing trend of pursuing external relations with non-member countries. The engagement with third countries that lie mostly in the immediate vicinity of their geographical boundaries has been an integral part of the wider process of transformation and adaptation to the international environment, the new emerging threats1. It resulted from a common need of providing the right incentives to ensure stability at the borders. The processes itself has got even further to the extent of providing an institutionalized format for enhancing reforms, deliver education and offer a perspective of integration, provided the political and technical contexts allowed.

As these two institutions stemmed from the wreckage of the Second World War on European territory, NATO and EU have searched to preserve peace, security and stability inside and at the periphery through specific while various means. For the outside countries they have employed a range of measures form economic aid, providing advice for defence and security reform to promoting democracy and liberal values. The aim of it has been to extend the benefices of their own stability beyond their geographic borders.

These two yet different organizations – an alliance (NATO) and a multi-purpose, mostly „civilian power” organization (EU)- have succeeded in promoting peace, stability, democracy and development by building partnerships with non-members. We acknowledge that this process has been driven by a strong political will of the member nations to creating and preserving an important stance for themselves at international level by using international organizations to achieve this specific means.

The process by which certain nations, united by the same values, principles, operating procedures, political organization (democracy) come together to act like one in defending political or security interests was explained thoroughly by Karl Deutsch (1957) in the security community concept. The concept relied on the experience of creating the North Atlantic Alliance. The same approach could also be traced at European level in late ‘50s. Back then the political situation was not ripe enough to give birth to a cohesive security core at European level alone. Nevertheless, with the evolving security interests, more divergent approaches and different security cultures in the Transatlantic link, EU has slowly developed as a security community with the launching of its European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). Yet it is not entirely certain how far and fast the EU can go alone in structuring its defence and security agenda.

In the model put forward by Deutsch nations can operate outside the patterns characteristic to the balance-of-power and act together for a common goal. Such examples today are NATO and EU, with each one being at a different level of development as a security community. EU has become wider and deeper in scope as the links among its members are manifold, ranging from economics and reaching to the security and defence fields. But, what is common for both NATO and EU as security communities is the interdependence created among its members, their common values, principles and sense of identity. Thus the members have succeeded in putting together common resources/ efforts and eliminating the security dilemma.

Currently, the threat to stability and prosperity lie outside the security communities, as war amongst its memebrs is inconceivable. Preserving the level of stability already achieved has been possible through opening up to different degrees to cooperation and partnership. Cooperative security agreements have gradually replaced former confrontational positions at regional level with a clear purpose to decrease tensions and focus on building trust and multiply links.

Since early ‘90s both EU and NATO have consistently reached out to non-members and have engaged them in dialogue and cooperation by offering partnership agreements. Thus, Deutsch theory previsions that security communities tend to attract other outside countries in building new security arrangements was proven to be true.

European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) (2004) and Euro-Atlantic Partnership (EAP) (1997)2 are concrete mechanisms developed with the aim of reaching out to non-members through closer cooperation and providing assistance to democratize, reach superior levels of security and put the basis for development. They are soft power mechanisms designed to connect and gradually develop strong relations and interdependences among a core group of countries and a diverse group of partners.

The power of attraction of such arrangements has increased with the cohesiveness of the security community, the level of like-mindedness of its members, the values shared, its capabilities (political, militarily, economically) as well as its willingness to remain open to outside cooperation.

Thus, cooperative security arrangements, such as EAP and ENP, have taken shape as institutionalized formations of countries that gravitate around the EU and NATO as the core security communities. Among the purposes of such frames could be mentioned the lessening of the likelihood of war and the creation of strong bonds among its members.

For the states at the core of security communities, partnerships represent a double way of preserving their identity, enhance their relevance and legitimacy at international level. On the one hand it attracts states into cooperation with the help of its soft power mechanisms (financial assistance, projects for development, joint programmes, transfer of know-how and best practices etc.) that have been developed and adapted continuously. On the other hand – and in order to keep this attraction alive- the organizations have to function properly, display the right amount of capabilities for their international prestige, relevance and confirmation of their power. These processes are a comprehensive result of putting together resources and interests to build interdependencies and preserve common interests inside the core and in cooperation with its immediate vicinity.

Such arrangements at regional level with non-member countries were inevitable in an environment with ever evolving security risks where the need to preserve national interests (economic, political, militarily), with growing interconnectedness, is pressing. That is why organizations work is impossible in isolation.

Thus big institutions find it worthwhile to engage with outside countries in the neighboring regions in order to safeguard their interests, avoid developing of security dilemmas to their borders and create the conditions for a greater flexibility of their approach to maintain stability and promote development. Partnerships are built on a broad approach to security and development, structured through different layers of cooperation such as political, economic, social, defence or environmental.

In this vein, partnerships have been developed on three main dimensions:
– Political: the intensity of the relations is given by the extension of the fields of cooperation that result in solid links and interdependencies; capacity of offering incentives to cooperate; dialogue; the common fields of interest or the common perceived threats;
– Economic: characterized by the capacity to offer financial aid and specific assistance, to benefit from the spill-over effects of growth, to develop joint projects at regional level (transportation, environment etc.), to manage the flows of migration and work force;
– Military: characterized by developing joint capabilities, similar standards of operation, interoperability, joint operations, countering the same threats, confidence building.

The partners are involved in these dimensions of cooperation, some of them display a higher interest in specific areas than others. It was observed that closer the ring of countries to the core more necessary the relationship as geography still has its particular role to play.

Thus, partnerships have been mainly targeted towards the immediate ring of neighbors (Eastern Europe, North Africa and Middle East) for whom membership was not necessarily an immediate deliverable, from various reasons.

One of the main purposes to model partnerships has been to get closer to the neighbouring countries by staying open to cooperation and allowing a free flow of benefits towards them. Thus the core community irradiates its model of development in the economic sphere, as EU gives a stake in the internal market; the political one, building on the democratic way of political organization; military, creating similar standards and method of operation. NATO and EU have engaged through the ‘90s in impressive efforts of stabilization, development, promoting democracy and the rule of law. Also, enlargement was a very specific means that has brought positive results.

Partnerships have served common strategic and political interests, have replaced the risk of fighting war at the periphery with creating inter-links and spur dialogue, have multiplied channels of dialogue and have set forth new opportunities of development. They have become a part of the security communities’ identity by staying open to cooperation outside their borders.

2. European Neighborhood Policy – delivering at regional level

ENP as a soft tool of foreign relations has been meant to manage contacts on various layers with EU’s immediate neighbors in the Eastern and Southern part of its boundaries3. This policy is based on sharing and promotion of values such as human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law, respect for human rights in a society of pluralism, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination as put forward in the ENP Strategy Paper (2004).

The scope of the policy is to forge an intensified relationship with those countries that have not joined the organization (some of them pertain already to different mechanisms of cooperation with the EU, i.e. the Barcelona Process for the Mediterranean region) in order to avoid dividing lines between an enlarged Europe and the rest of the countries surrounding it.

ENP offers the possibility to participate in various EU activities, through greater political, security, economic and cultural cooperation. It is a mechanism of cooperation that unfolds in different fields of activity and that does not offer membership. Instead, it offers an alternative that brings within the countries willing to take benefit of the opportunity for wide domestic reform, good governance mutual prosperity, stability and security. It puts emphasis on differentiation and joint ownership while achieving its specific objectives of cooperation. It is a very useful mechanism more so as it tackles issues stemming from poverty, migration, poor infrastructure, environmental problems, transportation, health, energy.

It offers the possibility of economic integration („a stake in the internal market”4), deepening political cooperation (regional and international issues, conflict prevention, crisis management, common security threats like terrorism, and its root causes, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and illegal arms export).

It is a way to strengthen the perception of shared responsibility between the EU and its partners for security and stability in the neighbourhood region. Also it builds on a possible involvement of partners in aspects of CFSP and ESDP, conflict prevention, crisis management, exchange of information, joint training and exercises and possible participation in EU-led crisis management operations.

It seeks to avoid any sense of exclusion caused by enlargement and to provide an opportunity to share its spill-over effects outside the boundaries of the member countries. The scope and intensity of the cooperation with the partner countries varies, it is tailored to the specificity of the relations in accordance with the mutual interests at stake. The policy delivers results through the implementation of Action Plans agreed between the EU and the nations, bilaterally.

The areas of cooperation as mentioned in the ENP Strategy Paper are wide, covering political dialogue and reform, economic and social cooperation and development, trade, market reforms, justice, liberty and security, home affairs (fighting organized crime and corruption, money laundering, trafficking) transport, energy, information society, environment, research and development, people to people contacts, civil society, education, public health.

The ENP has contributed to the on-going activities in the area of regional, cross-border cooperation. It is complementary, coherent, and coordinated with the objectives set in the relationship with those counties and intends to contribute through regional cooperation to conflict resolution in its neighborhood. It also seeks to resolve outstanding issues which have arisen in bilateral relations.

3. Euro-Atlantic Partnership – delivering at regional level

NATO developed its external relations with the neighboring countries since the early ‘90s, providing security and stability at its borders through partnership, cooperation and dialogue using specific tools of soft security. It was a means of turning former Cold War foes into trusted partners by multiplying the links and the assistance offered in the defence and security fields.

NATO has reached out to the countries in its neighbourhood pertaining now to the EAPC/PfP, Mediterranean Dialogue (MD)5 by offering them partnership and cooperation in mutual fields of interest. At the same pace with the changes of the international security environment, NATO has extended its cooperation with a wider range of nations through mechanisms that are not as institutionalized as the EAP and MD. This includes Istanbul Cooperation Initiative6 and the relations with so called contact countries (such as Australia, New Zeeland, South Korea or Japan and Argentina).

From its inception, Partnerships have been meant to include everyone interested and to build strong ties among countries in the security and defence fields so as to help overcome potential divisions and disagreements that might lead to instability or conflict at the periphery.

The scope of the cooperation through partnerships is closely linked with the nature of the Alliance after the end of the Cold War, that reached out to its neighbours in an attempt to build regional security and stability and consolidate mutual trust. These partnerships are based on sharing of values and principles and seek to promote stability and security not only for its members but also for the regions in its vicinity.

Partnerships represent a form of cooperation based on a broader concept of security that implies using soft tools to render cooperation more fruitful and predictable in terms of security deliveries. The Strategic Concept of the Alliance (1999) stipulates that the aim of engaging with partners outside NATO lies on increasing transparency, mutual confidence and the capacity for joint action with the Alliance.It has been meant as a tool to shape the security environment and enhance peace and stability along its frontiers. It also seeks to preventing crises and defusing them at an early stage. It has built along the years many channels of dialogue that allowed this to happen.

Its specific objectives are found in the Basic EAPC Document (1997) and PfP Framework Document (1994) and refer mainly to: transparency in national defence planning and budgeting, democratic control of armed forces, preparedness for civil disasters and other emergencies, development of the ability to work together, including in NATO-led PfP operations.

NATO offers to its partners the possibility to consultations in case a direct threat to its territorial integrity, political independence or security is perceived. It also offers closer cooperation in defence and security that could hold open the prospect of membership. Membership Action Plans have been launched with countries aspiring to become members. It also engages more closely with interested partners in more intensified cooperation (not with a membership perspective) by developing specific cooperation plans called Individual Partnership Action Plans. With the aim of countering new threats and building solid defence institutional infrastructure NATO launched two other Partnership Actions Plans, PAPDIB and PAPT, one with the purpose to build defence institutions in the partner countries and the other is meant to contribute to fighting terrorism. Partnerships has contributed to preserving stability while building mutual trust as well as interoperability and laying the ground for participation in military exercises meant to prepare troops for potential crisis management operations.

The areas of cooperation are broad and could be traced in training and education, interoperability, civil-military relations, concept and doctrine development, defence planning, crisis management, proliferation issues, armaments cooperation as well as participation in operational planning and operations.

4. Effects of partnership arrangements on the regional cooperation

Partnerships have had a huge influence on the behavior of those engaged in this form of cooperation, both the initiators and the receivers. The security communities, in our case NATO and EU, have seen their legitimacy and attractiveness at international level increased, while the surrounding neighbourood, has become more cooperative, transparent, prone to reform and stable. The right formula for this positive pattern lies in providing the right kind of incentives for cooperation (political, economic or military), remaining open to cooperation and erasing the perception on „ins” and „outs”.

Partnerships have succeeded to entice regional cooperation not only between the organizations proposing it and the target countries but to a certain extent amongst the neighbouring countries themselves. This endeavor is more difficult as the interests and objectives that unite countries in regional partnerships are not as strong as the ones that define the security community.

The neighborhood remains still a heterogeneous area, with different countries occasionally being engaged in a leadership competition amongst them. Nevertheless the approach towards EU or NATO has helped overcome competition in a way and replace it with cooperation. This is important because the factors of cohesion among the countries engaged in such forms of agreements are not as strong as the ones that define the security communities. On the contrary, the likelihood of a crises bursting out at he outskirts is not excluded, more so with three unsolved frozen conflicts (Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia or Transdniester) looming at the borders. Nevertheless the prospects of cooperation and gaining benefits out of it are higher than engaging in out front confrontation.

There is a perceived fragility of partnerships due to the loose link of those countries involved in it as a group because of the lower level of the economic and commercial ties or the small sharing of values and similar institutions.

It has been the case that these formations function well as long as the give-and-take is reasonably higher on both sides. It is also true that more widespread the interdependence links more likely that the depth and variety of the fields of cooperation increase and have chances to last longer.

The privileged relationships that NATO and EU have built with their neighbours have persisted and multiplied because the well of interests and political will continues to be filled-up. Political and practical reasons for cooperation have changed over time but they have persisted to render possible the continuation of the partnerships that have constantly adapted to the changing international environment. For example, in NATO’s case, partner countries have had different objectives when pursuing these relations. Some of them have aspired to become full members of the security community while others have wanted to build on interoperability, sharing of common knowledge in the defence and security fields that have generated over time reliable mechanisms to deter or solve potential crisis that might occur. Also they have reduced the diverging perceptions of different security cultures.

In this way NATO and EU have managed to create institutionalized formats of dialogue, cooperation and confidence building that have proved to be long lasting. As partnerships are a soft tool of security diplomacy it has put in place technical mechanisms meant to replace open dissuading with building trust and common operating systems.

In this vein partners have been involved as thoroughly as possible in solving jointly security threats, including by participation in peacekeeping operations, building interoperability, ensuring transparency in defence, overcoming security dilemmas. It also offered the opportunity for political dialogue among members and non-members on strategic issues either in bilateral formats or multilateral ones. More so it provided the right access to joint programmes and projects with economic benefits in sight.

As we have seen the reasons of why and to what extent to engage in dialogue, cooperation varies according to specific interests and objectives. By the same token, the offer from the core security communities varies in line with its specific activities and interests. Thus, NATO has focused mainly on defence and security reform projects for the neighboring area, building interoperability and ensuring an extra number of troops for the operations whose result impact both members and partners alike. In addition to this kind of cooperation, EU offers more incentives to cooperation as its area of activity is wider. But preserving security and stability at its frontiers is an unmitigated objective. The ways to accomplish this are more complex though, encompassing a broad variety of instruments beyond purely military or defence ones. EU’s capacity of offering financial assistance is a huge incentive for cooperation.

Both type of partnerships offered by NATO and EU have delivered concrete results at practical and conceptual levels. They succeeded to reduce the security dilemma, keep leverage on partner countries to fulfill reform objectives while receiving assistance and financing for joint projects at regional level. The modalities of interaction have depended mostly upon the reasons countries have taken up the partnership relationship, which have been either for integration purposes, cooperation, access to different instruments, assistance programmes and financial instruments.

By engaging in cooperation through partnership both EU and NATO have preserved their stance and attractiveness at international level as structures with normative powers to change and preserve stability at their borders. Partnerships potential is not over yet, as the incentives for cooperation, positive or negative are still present.  

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1 Terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts, state failure, organised crime (European Security Strategy, 2003); terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, instability due to failed or failing states, regional crises and conflicts, growing availability of sophisticated conventional weaponry, misuse of emerging technologies, disruption of the flow or vital resources (Comprehensive Political Guidance, NATO, 2006)
2 Both of them have roots in the beginning of the ‘90s with the creation of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NATO) and the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (EU)
3 Israel, Jordan, R. Moldova, Morocco, The Palestinian Authority, Tunisia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Lebanon, Algeria, Belarus, Libya, Syria
4 Commission of the European Union (2004), ENP Strategy Paper
5 Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, FYROM, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.
6 Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates

Loredana Enăchescu
- doctorand la specializarea Economie Mondială, Facultatea de Relaţii Economice Internaţionale, Academia de Studii Economice Bucureşti, Master în Relaţii Internaţionale, Facultatea de Ştiinţe Politice, Universitatea Bucureşti.




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