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Of Wealth and Weakness: The EU and its Eastern Neighborhood

MacFarlane, S. Neil and Menon, Anand (2015) Of Wealth and Weakness: The EU and its Eastern Neighborhood. [Conference Proceedings] (Submitted)

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    Introduction: In the following, we argue that, the theoretical and conceptual claims made by much of the literature on the EU’s dealings with its neighbourhood have been undermined by events in Ukraine and the rest of the Eastern Partnership states. Rather than the Union managing to ‘domesticate’ international politics by extending its governance system to its neighbours, the EU’s approach to Ukraine was significantly flawed, because it failed to take proper account of the realities of power politics and of the Russian quest for influence over what Moscow perceives to be its neighbourhood. EU policy makers overlooked the possibility that EU actions in the region might provoke a Russian response, deploying the tools that had proven so effective with the enlargements of 2003 and 2007 in a contested geographic territory with scant regard for the potential for consequent geopolitical rivalry. In making these claims, we deploy a neoclassical realist framework that, we argue, is most suitable to a rigorous assessment and explanation of EU foreign policy. Unlike many extant theoretical explanations of EU external relations, neoclassical realism provides tools not only for assessing their appropriateness given the nature of the international system and, particularly, of relative power relations within Europe (assessments all but absent from much of the extant literature on EU policies towards its eastern neighbourhood) but also for explaining their emergence. Realist approaches to international relations emphasise the way in which states respond to external stimuli. When states do not respond effectively to these stimuli, some analyses suggest that ‘we should find evidence of domestic politics…distorting the decision-making process’ (Rathbun, 2008 296). Neoclassical Realism emerged as a way of plugging this gap between neorealist expectations of foreign policy behaviour and the actual policies pursued by states. It is interested, in other words, in the responses of particular states to specific constraints and opportunities rather than in explaining systemic outcomes.

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    Item Type: Conference Proceedings
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > External relations > EU-Eastern Partnership
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2015 (14th), March 4-7, 2015
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2018 16:30
    Number of Pages: 15
    Last Modified: 06 Mar 2018 16:30

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