In the Winter issue of the Romanian Journal of European Affairs, the contributors bring forward topics concerning: EU and Russia’s foreign policy relations; the role of the EU as a peace-builder in the Western Balkans; some sustainable development aspects in the Cross-Border Cooperation Programmes (in Macedonia and Albania); the historical evolution of the conditionality criteria in the external relations of the EU with CEEC; the circular European economy and two book reviews on the historical formation of Human Rights and on the experience of Visegrád Countries in developing trade policy relations with the European Union.
From Obsolete Normative to Realpolitik in the EU and Russia Foreign Policy Relations
Growing global and regional challenges in terms of security and prosperity call for cooperation and “new type of great power” relations. Yet, both the EU and Russia took a U-turn in terms of rejuvenation of the Cold War politics announcing an astonishing overt deviation to a binary ideology fuelled zero-sum game. The EU failed to transpose Russia radical twist in foreign policy into a new design of the ENP and directly recalibrating the instruments managed to address the Eastern neighbourhood. The liberal functionalist approach would have been compatible assuming Russia had maintained its Western course; here, an exclusive design of the policy based on the normative matrix might have worked, although still at risk as it was excluding other regional power dynamics, the influences of the proximity of geography and the path-dependency that seems to reveal Cold War legacies. The Russia-Georgia war of 2008 and the annexation of Crimea were just a few of the outstanding signals that Russia’s assertiveness announced a reset of the power relations in the region. Hence, we reckon that it was a wrongly inspired policy choice for the EU to conclude prematurely enough that “Russia lacks the means of maintaining great-power status”, and consequently not predict state-like behaviour scenarios in response to a particular foreign policy pursued by the EU. In order to demonstrate the inappropriateness of the EU foreign policy design, we apply the concept of power and the regional security complex. Despite the fact that one of the pillars of the European Neighbourhood Policy is security for all, the EU has relied exclusively on policy stewardship built on a normative paradigm while miscalculating national security concerns of the Russian Federation.
Keywords: power politics, regional security complex, foreign policy
The Role of the EU as a Peacebuilder in the Western Balkans
After the Cold War, the Western Balkan countries have become an important laboratory for the EU, able to exert its EU crises management and transformative power. Through restoring stability in the region, overcoming ethno–territorial and inter–ethnic conflicts, improving regional cooperation, consolidating democracy, building democratic institutions and promoting market economy, EU’s goal was to make war unthinkable in this region. Referring to the definition of peacebuilding as ‘action to identify and support structures which tend to strengthen and solidify peace to avoid a relapse into conflicts’, this paper tries to explore whether, how and to what extent, EU has contributed as a peacebuilder in the Western Balkans, using crises management operations and mission and enlargement policy. It argues that both these instruments can be considered equally relevant as, on the one hand they create favourable conditions for lasting peace, security and stability in the region and on the other hand, through enlargement policy they push this region towards political and institutional reform, economic reforms and regional cooperation.
Keywords: peacebuilding, European Union, Common Security and Defence Policy, Enlargement Policy, Western Balkans
Sustainable Development Aspects in Cross-Border Cooperation Programmes: The Case of Macedonia and Albania
The cross-border area between Albania and Macedonia can be considered as a region with agrarian or industrial-agrarian economy, although the overall picture should take into account significant contrasts within the region, between the two countries, but also between the southern and northern part, and between mountainous areas and lowlands. Agriculture, agribusiness, light industry, mining, energy production and tourism are the main economic sectors, which also have the biggest potential in the cross-border region. Both countries are gaining experience in EU funded cross-border cooperation programmes with other neighbouring countries and with each other.
The scope of the research is the evaluation and analysis of the Integrated Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) Cross-border Cooperation (CBC) Programme Macedonia-Albania 2007-2013 and its sustainable development aspects. The research is trying to assess the impact of the programme since its start in 2007 and the impact of the implemented grants on the sustainable development. The importance of the sustainable development aspect is recognized and is formally included into various national strategic documents, however implementation is often problematic and sustainability aspects need to be examined on a more concrete level.
The methodology used was qualitative with research tools such as desk studies of relevant program documentation, strategic and planning documentation and other relevant published materials. The desk review considered well over 40 documents relevant to the program, most of which were shared by the Ministry of European Integration (MoEI) and other actors.
Keywords: cross-border cooperation, EU, evaluation, sustainable development
Historical Evolution of Conditionality Criteria in External Relations of the EU with CEEC from the Cold War to the Accession: an Insider’s Perspective
Conditionality is a concept frequently linked to funds received from international financial institutions by countries in trouble. Most cases depend on the financial support to developing countries of the IMF, but also of other institutions like the World Bank, ADB, IBD, EIB or the EBRD that are targeting the Central and Eastern European countries. Besides the financial framework there is another application of conditionality often used by organizations like the EU for applicant countries that are in the European integration process. Although no reference was made to any specific conditionality criteria in the Treaty of Rome, the EEC first and the EU afterwards applied a process of conditionality criteria during the commercial negotiations with Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) in the 80’s. While general principles were developed in international forum, from the Helsinki Final Act signed in 1975, until the Copenhagen criteria for membership adopted during the June 1993 European Council, a great evolution has happened and even stricter conditions were established in the future when Bulgaria and Romania became applicant countries. All these topics will be the purpose of the present article from an introspective point of view, providing relevant information of very little known bureaucratic procedures.
Keywords: positive and negative conditionality, retaliation, sanctions safeguard clause, freeze of negotiations, human rights, rule of law, democracy, market economy, acquis communautaire
The European Economy: From a Linear to a Circular Economy
For quite some time a profound preoccupation for many economists, politicians, environmentalists, sociologists or philosophers looking towards the coming decades consisted in searching for a new paradigm of development and growth that is feasible within the given limits of planet Earth. There are already widely accepted concepts like “sustainable development” or “low-carbon economy” that seem right but not enough. Such concepts seem to address the effects and not the causes. In this paper we analyze a broader approach that places human activity into a long term historical perspective, namely the circular economy. This new development paradigm, supported by the European Union, is, in fact, an “old” one moved upwards on a dialectical spiral so that it connects and resonates with the spirit and realities of our times. The conclusions reflect optimism concerning the success in large scale implementation of the circular economy concept in the European Union and worldwide and thus in taking advantage of opportunities rather than wasting resources by opposing the ineluctable changes.
Keywords: development paradigm, linear economy, circular economy, European economy, spirit of our times
Book Review: The Architecture of Concepts: The Historical Formation of Human Rights
Scott Nicholas Romaniuk
How do concepts come to be? And, in particular, how current conceptions of international human rights are built upon a particular conceptual architecture? Peter de Bolla, author of The Architecture of Concepts: The Historical Formation of Human Rights, addresses these questions in incremental steps, building on what scholars currently understand when it comes to concepts more generally. The methodology is based on the use of the Eighteenth Century Collection Online (ECCO) digital archives predominantly, with the aim of constructing data-dependent descriptions of conceptual architectures. The author, thus, looks at conceptual networks and the extensive relationships found within them so as to direct researchers in conducting future plotting of connectivities within networks. The opening chapter looks at concepts as a way of thinking. Concepts are treated as a metaphorical “subway or tube maps project into multiple dimensions.” The author then focuses on the eighteenth century and its printed materials. The use of large data allows the author to extrapolate matters of language spanning large communities. The following chapters combine the issue of creating conceptual dispositions with poignant debates about rights that pervaded the First Continental Congress during the 1770s, while repositioning the items of inquiry, mentioned previously, by challenging the assumption of the origin(s) of human rights.
Keywords: conceptualisation, conceptual networks, human rights
Book Review: Developing Trade and Trade Policy Relations with the European Union. Experience of Visegrád Countries and Implications/Lessons for Eastern Partners
The trade cooperation between the Eastern Partnership countries and the European Union has faced significant setbacks in recent years. Because the EU is basing its cooperation with the EaP countries on similar Agreements to those concluded with the Visegrád Four, the lessons learned from the integration of the Visegrád countries can help the eastern neighbours in their relations with the EU. The perspective of full membership, yearly evaluations and recommendations and the support of a dedicated financial instrument were the main sources that fuelled Poland’s and Hungary’s successful integration process. Thus, the lack of a full membership perspective weighs heavily on the cooperation between EU and the EaP countries, while the current situation in Ukraine also called the Eastern Partnership into question. Even though the Republic of Moldova and Georgia seem to favour European integration, Azerbaijan finds itself in an interesting position that allows it to be independent of the two powers EU and Russia. The lack of incentives offered by the EU in the trade negotiations may lead to the strengthening of the relations between the EaP countries and Russia.
Keywords: European Union, trade policy, Visegrád Four, Eastern Partnership