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Foreign Policy and Civil Society Program

July 13, 2010

Summary: In an earlier essay in this


Completing Europe:
series, Ronald Asmus argued that A Response to Ronald Asmus
the consensus and strategic para-
digm that has guided the enlarge- by Iris Kempe*
ment of NATO and the EU to Central
and Eastern Europe since the mid In his essay “Is Enlargement Dead?” of enlargement fatigue. The Russia–
1990s has crumbled and no longer Ronald Asmus argues that there is a Georgia War of 2008 may have
fits today’s strategic circumstances. real risk that the historical window slammed the door on additional
He says that absent a new narra- of opportunity for enlarging trans- memberships in NATO for Eastern
atlantic and European institutions is European countries. The domestic
tive for further enlargement and a
coming to a close, and that the West weaknesses and democracy deficits
revised strategy for accomplishing needs a new moral and strategic of Eastern governments — from
it, the historic window for extending narrative about why enlargement Viktor Yanukovych’s perceived tilt
core Western institutions to new still matters if it hopes to keep that toward Russia in Ukraine to Mikheil
window open. In my view, the most Saakashvili’s alleged impulsiveness
democracies as part of building a
concise answer to that challenge is in Georgia and other challenges in
Europe that is unified, free, and at that Europe is starting to tell the additional eastern neighbors —
peace is likely to close. Iris Kempe story of its completion. This is a make many EU members cautious
takes issue with that view and more optimistic view. In a foresee- and mitigate against opening Euro-
argues that it is too pessimistic. She
able if somewhat long-term future, pean and transatlantic institutions
the enlargement part of the Euro- to these states. Analysts should not
contends that key elements of that pean Union’s history will definitely deny the potential risk that these
narrative already exist, that impor- come to a close — not because of countries could end up lingering in
tant institutional building blocks enlargement fatigue and policy gray zones, neither fully integrated
for further enlargement led by the failure, but rather because the EU nor completely cast adrift.
will have brought in all those states
European Union are being put into
that aspire to membership and it will The challenges are real and daunting.
place and that a new narrative can border on states that do not. Eventually, extending offers of
and should be framed around the membership to these eastern neigh-
theme of “Completing Europe.” This is not to say that many of bors would significantly alter the
the points Asmus raises are not character of the European Union.
legitimate. At first and perhaps even With Ukraine, the EU would admit
second glance, prospects do appear another medium-sized state whose
dim for extending the benefits of population is roughly similar to that
close European and transatlantic of Spain and Poland. If Turkey joins
integration to a wider selection of the EU, it would be the EU’s second-
states to the east of the European most populous state, and one with
Union’s present borders. Following a growing population. Admitting
the big-bang enlargement of 2004 countries of this size would require
and the subsequent disappoint- recalibrating the internal voting rules
1744 R Street NW ment with Romanian and Bulgarian by which the EU runs. The eastern
Washington, DC 20009 membership in 2007, the EU has neighbors are also poor. Budgets,
T 1 202 745 3950 indeed been suffering from a case transfers, subsidies and all of the
F 1 202 265 1662 *
Dr. Iris Kempe is the Director of the Regional Office South Caucasus, Heinrich Boell Foundation.
E info@gmfus.org
Foreign Policy and Civil Society Program

financial programs of the EU will be affected by bringing 2010, Füle spoke in favor of adding more substance than
in additional net recipients. Entrenched interests will fight procedures when it comes to enlargement and neighbor-
hard for their prerogatives. hood policy. Third, Article 8 of the Lisbon treaty includes
the option of developing a special relationship with
At the same time, there may also be reasons to be more neighboring countries.
optimistic. In reality, the number of countries that seek
or could seek membership is shrinking, and the fear These internal adjustments show that the EU has recog-
that enlargement will never end is exaggerated. In addi- nized its need to adapt to a changed Europe and to create
tion to the Balkans, enlargement concerns a limited institutions able to accommodate a membership that may
number of states in Wider Europe, including those in the eventually include some 40 states. That framework already
South Caucasus. While these countries may be weaker exists in the European Union on paper and is increasingly
and poorer, they are also the final tranche likely to seek being put into place in reality.
membership.
This new framework has the potential to change the
More importantly, the European Union of 2010 and debate on enlargement. It will enable debates within
beyond has changed; it is no longer the same EU that the EU and its member states to advance productively.
admitted new members in 2004 and 2007. Negotia- The other major challenge lies with the eastern neigh-
tions to modify EU institutions to accommodate a larger bors who hope to eventually join the EU. They must still
number of members began in 2001, continued through formulate and implement a European orientation as a top
the constitutional convention and the rejection of the national priority on all levels. Compared with those in the
Constitutional Treaty, and eventually led to the Treaty of previous rounds of enlargement, the countries that now
Lisbon. This treaty, which entered into force on December aspire to EU membership must come up with arguments
1, 2009, offers advantages for further enlargement even that are even more convincing and demonstrate through
if its implementation will take some time, including the their actions that their inclusion is not only in their own
time needed to negotiate competencies between member interests, but would also increase security and stability in
states and European institutions. The Lisbon treaty gives Wider Europe. They must show that they are capable of
greater weight to the European Parliament, provides high- functioning within an ever-closer European Union, and
profile offices to make EU policy more personalized, and that their admission will be a net gain for the existing
increases political coordination between member states members. Achieving the goal of completing Europe will
and EU institutions. Simplified working methods and new require both changes in the European Union’s Eastern
voting procedures such as the “double majority” make it policy as well as paradigm changes in the countries of the
possible for EU institutions to function more efficiently. Eastern neighborhood.

To shape Wider Europe, the Lisbon treaty provides a The Neighbors in Wider Europe Have Work to Do
three-pronged strategic toolbox. First, on the institutional
level, the new office of High Representative for Foreign Of the six countries that fall under the rubric of Wider
Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union gives Europe — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia,
greater weight to the EU in external matters, such as Moldova, and Ukraine — none has established a fully
relations with eastern neighbors. The European External functioning and stable democratic system. There are key
Action Service, as a nascent European diplomatic corps differences among them in terms of both political and
that builds on the EU’s existing missions, will also enable economic reform. Despite important breakthroughs
greater efficiency in external affairs. At the very highest such as Georgia’s in 2003 and Ukraine’s in 2004, the
level, the establishment of a permanent President of the political systems in these countries range from autoc-
European Council, to drive the work of the EU’s heads racy in Belarus and Azerbaijan to unsteady democracy in
of state and government, has the potential to give EU Georgia and Ukraine. In their steps toward democracy
policy greater coherence than it had in the pre-Lisbon era. and a market economy, these countries have generally
Second, an innovation in the current Barroso Commis- lacked an overall master plan linking internal change and
sion is Czech Commissioner Stefan Füle’s responsibility foreign policy orientation. The current commitments
for enlargement and neighborhood policy. In the course from the EU and NATO are not substitutes for prospects
of his hearing in the European Parliament on January 12, of membership. Far more than the West needs an open


Foreign Policy and Civil Society Program

debate on enlargement, these countries in the East need a new chapter in its Eastern policy. For the first time, it
wide-ranging discussions of their future orientations. aims from the very beginning to include civil societies as
Without stronger civil societies, deeper democracy, more driving forces of Wider Europe. With this step, the EU is
effective state institutions, and a broad national consensus showing that previous processes of enlargement cannot
on integration, the EU’s neighbors will not be ready simply be replicated. The interactions between institu-
to take advantage of any offers that might come from tions and governments must be different from those that
Western institutions. The eastern neighbors also have led to Central and Eastern European enlargement in 2004.
their work cut out for them in terms of overall develop- The new drive toward EU membership is more likely to be
ment. To make credible bids for accession, their govern- guided by sectoral integration in areas such as free trade
and visa facilitation. Nongovernmental organizations
In reality, the number of in the neighboring countries are a potential source of
change. At the same time, the NGOs are themselves part
of the transition process. They are still undergoing eman-
countries that seek or could seek cipation from the legacies of the former Soviet Union,
and very often they are restricted by the conditions of
membership is shrinking, and the transition such as lack of free media or lack of a legal and
financial framework.
fear that enlargement will never
A Different Route
end is exaggerated. . . . [And] Taken together, these developments suggest that in
contrast to the states of Central and Eastern Europe, the
the EU has recognized its need current neighbors are likely to forge closer relations with
the EU more rapidly than with NATO. In part, this is
to adapt to a changed Europe because the EU is continually innovating in its relations
with the region; the plethora of programs means that
the European Union is constantly present in these coun-
and to create institutions able tries’ domestic political discussions. This preference also
stems from a view that the EU bridges their relations with
to accommodate a membership both Europe and Russia; the neighbors can improve one
without necessarily endangering the other. Finally, this
that may eventually include some preference is partly due to the existence of more points
of contact between the neighbors’ governments and civil
societies and the EU institutions. NATO’s Partnership for
40 states. Peace, for all of its benefits, works with a narrower selec-
tion of local partners.

ments and public institutions will likely have to function The United States and the EU need to be clear on what
at a level at least comparable to that of the Baltic states; anchoring the eastern neighbor states to the West will
Bulgaria and Romania are widely perceived as having mean in practice. The depth of integration implied in
gained membership without being truly prepared, and the eventual EU membership will hopefully provide a contin-
EU is unlikely to let that happen again. Furthermore, any uous impetus for social change throughout the process.
enlargement comprising more than one state will have to Meeting European norms, incorporating the acquis into
be seen as a net gain for the EU; otherwise, the current national legislation, and the enormously detailed ways in
members will simply declare that more time is needed which European states work together will give the neigh-
before accession can proceed. bors continuous opportunities to strengthen their local
institutions and support from their civil societies. Very
The European Union is nevertheless taking steps to help little of this progress will make headlines, and for much
the neighbors to prepare. With its Eastern Partnership, of the time it may appear very technical and as if enlarge-
officially launched in December 2008, the EU has opened ment fatigue is continuing. But as long as the neighbors


Foreign Policy and Civil Society Program

are working toward European standards and the present At the same time, U.S. and EU leaders will be signaling to
members are helping them in these tasks, European inte- Russia that there are limits to the influence it can expect
gration will be proceeding apace. to exercise within the territory of the former Soviet
Union. The positive signals after the tragic airplane crash
Bringing the neighboring countries into an institutional near Katyn should be used to help overcome legacies
framework of Wider Europe requires a tailor-made of the past. Momentum gained in the immediate after-
approach to both NATO and the European Union. NATO math should be used for sustainable efforts toward more
commands immediate attention and highlights some effective cooperation. Maintaining a discussion requires
of the deepest internal divisions in the neighbors’ soci- the appropriate programs and financial resources, as
eties, along with the most difficult choices in their rela- well as porous borders. This will require effort from the
tions with Russia. The promise of security guarantees is neighbors, as well as from Russia. For example, societal
balanced by internal and external challenges, such that dialogue between Georgia and Russia is not possible
decision-makers in the neighboring countries are recon- in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two
sidering the priority they have given to NATO. In this countries. One of Europe’s tasks is to initiate a dialogue
context, the EU has become a more attractive goal, at least and to create the necessary diplomatic conditions for
for the time being. Western partners should therefore open dialogue to take place.
focus on convergence with the European Union, particu-
larly the low-key work of sectoral integration and accus- Energy supply and energy security are key parts of any
toming the neighbors to the habits of working within EU Eastern policy. No other field of policy so tightly ties
EU processes. This does not mean wavering on each or deeply influences the interests and interdependence of
country’s right to choose its own alliances and security Russia, the neighboring states, and the European Union.
arrangements, but it does mean choosing which parts of Shaping Wider Europe means changing Europe’s energy
anchoring to emphasize and provide with resources. supplies. The more effectively Europe uses its energy, the
less it depends on Russia, a point that applies doubly to
The Largest Neighbor: Russia the EU’s eastern neighbors. At present, the EU’s neigh-
boring states have the least efficient energy use in Europe,
The overall goals for Brussels and major Western capi- offering considerable scope for improvement. The use
tals have not changed: a united and free Europe, no gray of renewable energy sources should also be expanded. In
zones, democratic governments and market economies, addition, improving efficiency and using more renewables
and eventual integration into European and transatlantic should be reflected in EU technical assistance programs.
structures. As part of the path to these goals, Europe From a strategic perspective, security of delivery is every
— the EU and its member states — as well as the United bit as important as security of sourcing. European poli-
States will adjust the way in which they deal with the cymakers have chosen to improve the security of both by
largest neighbor in Wider Europe: Russia. On European diversifying potential sources and the pipelines required
issues, the transatlantic partners are challenged to find to deliver oil and natural gas. The goal should be to tie
means to encourage Russia to be cooperative. One aspect the interests of energy consumers, transit states, and
is to consider not only official Russia, but also the many producers together so that all sides benefit.
elements of Russian society that play a role in that coun-
try’s relations with the EU’s other neighbors. European Finishing Touches
integration and change within Russia are both long-term
processes. The EU should include civic partners from “Is enlargement dead?” Ronald Asmus asks. Rumors of its
Russia in its programs for the Eastern neighborhood, and death are greatly exaggerated. A more constructive way
it should work to reach beyond current ruling structures. forward might be to frame the issue in terms of enlarge-
Vladimir Putin’s Russia is not the whole of the country, ment’s completion as a finite and politically achievable
nor will it shape Russia’s relations with Europe over the challenge. The first step in meeting that challenge is for
full time frame that integration is likely to take. EU insti- Europe to begin telling the story of its completion. In a
tutions and actors will benefit from taking a long view in foreseeable, if lengthy, future, the European Union still
relations with Russia. has the chance to integrate those countries that wish to
and are able to join, after which it will border on states
that do not aspire to membership. Then the enlargement


Foreign Policy and Civil Society Program

part of the EU’s history will indeed come to a close — as


a success. The EU’s new institutions are just beginning About GMF
their work in the starting blocks; there are member states
whose leaders can see completion approaching, and the The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a non-
eventual roster of members is increasingly apparent. partisan American public policy and grantmaking institution dedi-
cated to promoting better understanding and cooperation between
Completing Europe is a vision of Wider Europe that North America and Europe on transatlantic and global issues. GMF
can drive change in the neighbors, guide relations with does this by supporting individuals and institutions working in the
nearby states that do not aspire to membership, and transatlantic sphere, by convening leaders and members of the poli-
shape debates among the present members. Civil society cy and business communities, by contributing research and analysis
dialogue and sectoral integration are two approaches on transatlantic topics, and by providing exchange opportunities
to overcoming enlargement fatigue. Along with the to foster renewed commitment to the transatlantic relationship.
new institutions, they will help current EU members In addition, GMF supports a number of initiatives to strengthen
find the means to accommodate the eastern neighbors. democracies. Founded in 1972 through a gift from Germany as a
A discourse about Wider Europe that also includes a permanent memorial to Marshall Plan assistance, GMF maintains
common European energy policy and linkage between a strong presence on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to its
Russian and neighborhood policy will promote open headquarters in Washington, DC, GMF has seven offices in Europe:
debates in both East and West, to the benefit of all partici- Berlin, Bratislava, Paris, Brussels, Belgrade, Ankara, and Bucharest.
pants. The eastern neighbors have hard work ahead of
them in a drive to make European integration their About the On Wider Europe Series
national priority, based on ongoing transition processes This series is designed to focus in on key intellectual and policy de-
and developing constructive relations with Russia. Pros- bates regarding Western policy toward Wider Europe that otherwise
pects for a free, united Europe, with widening and deep- might receive insufficient attention. The views presented in these
ening integration led by the European Union, are not as papers are the personal views of the authors and not those of the
bleak as they appear at first glance. With a framework in institutions they represent or The German Marshall Fund of the
place and determined efforts from the EU’s neighbors, United States. We want to encourage creative thinking, offer alterna-
the story of the next decade could still be a positive and tive ideas and foster debate. Anyone with additional ideas should
successful one. feel free to contact Ronald Asmus at rasmus@gmfus.org. We hope
you enjoy these papers and they contribute to a constructive debate
and better policies.