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EU's relations with Eastern Neighbours as a showcase of the EU's Actorness

Iulian Romanyshyn & Dorina Baltag

Recent deterioration of the political situation in Eastern Europe against the background of the democratic revival in North Africa reinvigorated the question on the extent to which the EU can effectively meet its objectives in its Eastern neighbourhood and, consequently, boost its actorness in the region? In Belarus the European sanctions imposed against the human rights violation show little effects; while some member states choose to continue their business deals with Minsk. The EU campaigns promotion of human rights in the Russian Federation while simply 'taking a note' of the results of presidential elections in Russia, barely showing its solidarity with the wide opposition movements started in December 2011. In Ukraine, it seems that the EU opts for a policy of 'wait-and-see' showing lack of strategic vision. Only in Moldova developments seem to be pointing in the right direction, but whether this is a result of positive effects of EU policy remains questionable. An empirical analysis of the EU's immediate neighbourhood points out that the EU and its member states are balancing between the choices of values vs. interest-driven decisions, choices of solidarity or bilateralism and choices of geopolitical or rules-based approaches. Therefore, this paper examines EU's above-mentioned dichotomies in order to show how the EU can achieve its declared goals and maximize actorness in the Eastern neighbourhood.

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