European Neighbourhood Policy, ENP, Eastern Partnership, European Union, EU, institutionalization, Europeanization, democratization, democracy promotion, stabilization, transition
The paper aims to answer the question why the process of institutionalization of the EU’s external relations with its six neighboring countries, representing the Eastern dimension of European Neighbourhood Policy (i.e., Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), has failed to perform its stabilization role. The study is exploratory and descriptive in nature. Its results indicate three main reasons for which the aforementioned institutionalization process has not been successful, and thus – the EU’s neighbourhood has become even more unstable than it was over a decade before. The first reason is rooted in the applied integration model. The model expected the EU’s neighbours to undergo deep reforms, without offering them the EU membership ‘reward’. In this regard, the EU’s offer not only failed to meet the expectations of the neighbours in question, but also appeared to be partly misunderstood. In consequence, the Eastern ENP countries considered the decision on their potential EU membership to be exclusively political, as well as underestimated the importance of the previously agreed reforms. As regards the second reason for the unsuccessful development of the institutionalization process, the Eastern ENP countries found it very difficult to reach a high level of ‘embeddedness’ of the transferred formal institutions in their socio-economic environment. Finally, the institutionalisation process has also faced difficulties due to the geopolitical rivalry between the EU and Russia over the region. The actions and policies undertaken by Russia not only influenced the (political and economic) decisions of the EU’s Eastern neighbours, but also clearly showed that the institutionalisation of their relations with the EU neither provided for them protection nor guaranteed defence. According to the presented theoretical approach, this serves as an explanations why the stabilisation function of the institutionalization process was not able to perform its role.