chapter  13
Resisting ‘good governance’ norms in the EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy
Pages 16

Introduction The progressive expansion of the European Union (EU) over the last 25 years has brought with it the issue of how the enlarged EU is to manage and develop its relationships with its near neighbours in Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. One of the significant concerns for the EU has been the enduring patterns of instability, underdevelopment and, in some cases, conflict amongst its neighbours. The EU’s current solution to this issue has been to attempt to promote its own good governance norms across its neighbouring countries without necessarily offering them the prize of EU membership. The accession process for prospective EU members has in the past been an effective mechanism for the EU to promote good governance norms and consolidate what former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton (2011), termed ‘deep democracy’. However, as former President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi (2002), argued, the EU needed to offer neighbouring non-member states ‘more than partnership and less than membership, without precluding the latter’. The EU therefore developed the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in 2004 as a way of promoting a package of good governance norms in order to address the problems exhibited in its neighbouring states. These norms generally include respect for the rule of law and human rights, representative government and gender equality, and have been contrasted with the ‘status quo’ in many ENP partners: authoritarian governance, endemic corruption, consistent violation of human rights norms, and pervasive gender inequalities. Its objective is ‘avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and our neighbours and instead strengthening the prosperity, stability and security of all’ (European External Action Service n.d.). Initially confined to the former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe, the EU subsequently expanded the ENP to include partner states in North Africa and the Middle East.1 The ENP offers partner states the opportunity to enhance their relationships with the EU by moving beyond simple cooperation to engage in integration with the EU, including greater access to the EU common market. In return, ENP partners are required to adopt EU-mandated reforms. The extent of integration is dependent on the extent

to which ENP partners demonstrate a shared commitment to EU norms and values (European External Action Service, n.d.). The ENP is therefore a conditional agreement – the EU offers partners rewards in return for achieving the mandated reforms (Clapton 2014, 71). In 2011, the European Commission reviewed the ENP in the context of the perception that ENP partners had made uneven and inconsistent progress in implementing the mandated reforms. This chapter explores the EU’s lack of success in some areas in promoting and diffusing its liberal democratic good governance norms. It argues that this lack of success is the result of a complex interplay of factors, including resistance within the EU and ENP partners to the norms being promoted, problems associated with the EU’s attempts to act as a norm entrepreneur and the impact of local political, social and normative contexts on the ability of ENP partners to successfully adopt the good governance norms that the EU seeks to promote. More fundamentally, this chapter suggests that the analytical value of two separate categories of norm entrepreneur and antipreneur is questionable in the case of the ENP. First, resistance can only explain one part of the story of why the ENP has not successfully entrenched the EU’s good governance norms in its neighbourhood. Second, a focus on the specific roles that actors may undertake in a given norm cycle does not necessarily tell us a great deal about intention and the discursive, representational and ideational contexts through which actors’ identities are constructed. This can inform why actors may choose to resist or accept a given norm or set of norms. As discussed below, some examples of resistance to the ENP have had less to do with resisting the EU’s good governance norms themselves than other factors. Third, in some cases where resistance can be identified, such as Russia’s reaction to the Eastern Partnership (designed to strengthen the ENP among Eastern European partners), there are few substantive functional differences between what the EU is doing with the ENP and how Russia has responded. Essentially, Russia has responded by attempting to promote its own customs and economic unions in the region in an attempt to promote regional integration and reinforce its influence vis-à-vis the EU. In this specific case, this chapter follows Bob (2012; and this volume) in suggesting that a more fruitful approach may lay in conceptualising different actors and normative communities as rival entrepreneurs. The remainder of the chapter proceeds as follows. First, the chapter provides an overview of the development and evolution of the ENP. It then analyses the challenges the EU has faced in promoting good governance norms, exploring several different factors that are associated with EU norm entrepreneurship other than resistance that have prevented the EU from successfully transmitting its norms in the neighbourhood. The final section of the chapter considers examples of resistance to the ENP and evaluates the utility of the norm antipreneur concept, arguing that while it is useful and important to focus more carefully on resistance and contestation in norm dynamics, the analytical utility of the concept of the norm antipreneur is limited when applied to the case of the ENP.