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Project Description: Strategies for the EU Neighbourhood

Current crises and conflicts in the EU’s neighbourhood are having a destabilizing effect on the EU and its Member States. We aim to develop proposed solutions for how a European Neighbourhood Policy can effectively influence transformation processes in neighbouring countries in order to increase security, stability and prosperity for all sides.

Crises, conflicts and wars are destabilizing the neighbourhood and creating challenges for the European Union. Islamist terrorism and transnational criminality do not stop at the EU’s borders. Nor is it possible to prevent masses of people fleeing violence and persecution from seeking refuge in Europe. In addition, we cannot escape the horrific images of misery and mistreatment, bombed cities and thousands of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean that reach us day after day via the media. If we looked the other way, we would throw into doubt our own values and thereby the foundation of our peaceful political order. Therefore, when it comes to the EU’s relations with its neighbours – to slightly alter the famous quote of the 18th-century German writer and philosopher Friedrich Schiller – the EU cannot live in peace if its neighbours cannot also live in peace.

Infographic: "Neighbours of the Neighbours"

Developing a stable, well-governed neighbourhood, which simultaneously provides security to its inhabitants while opening up future economic prospects for them, is in the EU’s fundamental self-interest. History to date shows that only democracies lead to genuine stability, both internally and externally. Through its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the EU has been trying since 2003 to encourage and foster transformation processes toward democracy and a social market economy among its eastern and southern neighbours. But, so far, this policy has not been truly successful. Poor governance and a disregard for human rights and civil liberties continue to be the norm. Corruption and the indiscriminate use of state power are likewise widespread. These transformation deficits, in turn, lead to economic stagnation and aggravate the societal tensions that erupt into violence every now and then, thereby making any further progress impossible. In addition, countries such as Russia, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia are undermining the EU’s reform efforts or further heating up conflict situations – such as in Ukraine or Syria – through military interventions.

The “Strategies for the EU Neighbourhood” project aims to develop proposed solutions for how to support democratic and market-economy reforms in the countries neighbouring the EU in a more targeted manner and to thereby improve the EU’s abilities to prevent crises and mitigate conflicts in the region. To this end, five closely related areas of activity will particularly be examined in more detail. Each of these areas of activity is in itself a necessary prerequisite for a successful European foreign, security and development policy.

We are developing our reform proposals and policy recommendation in regular “stakeholder dialogues” with political decision-makers, experts, actors from business and civil society, and other multipliers. Our policy papers, country studies and reports reflect this collaboration.

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