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The European Neighbourhood Policy and the Southern Mediterranean / Michele Comelli, Atila Eralp, Çiğdem Üstün (eds) 31 mars 2010

Posted by Acturca in Academic / Académique, Books / Livres, EU / UE, Middle East / Moyen Orient, South East Europe / Europe du Sud-Est, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
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The International Spectator (Italy), Vol. 45, No. 1, March 2010

Silvia Colombo

The European Neighbourhood Policy and the Southern Mediterranean / Michele Comelli, Atila Eralp, Çiğdem Üstün (eds). – Ankara : Middle East Technical University Press, 2009. – xiv, 181 p. – ISBN 978-9944-344-79-1

The countries of the southern shore of the Mediterranean are increasingly critical of the set of policies that the EU has devised and has been implementing towards them since the early 1990s. This criticism, together with recent and not necessarily positive political and economic developments in the region, have spurred a much required reflection on the EU Neighbourhood Policy in order to assess its flaws and potential in the new international context. The book aims at meeting this need by studying the inter-relationship of EU deepening and widening in the context of EU-Mediterranean relations and by exploring expectations on both sides.

The rationale of the book is « to analyse the Southern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which, as frequently noted in academic and policy debates, presents different challenges and opportunities than the Eastern dimension » (157). The book is composed of seven chapters which correspond to as many contributions, plus an introduction and some concluding remarks. It sheds light on the specific content and evolution of the ENP towards the Southern Mediterranean countries in a way that is easily accessible to all kinds of readers. It does this by focusing on the perceptions of Europe’s Mediterranean partners and, in particular, on three case studies (Algeria, Egypt and Israel). Additional analysis is provided for the cases of Morocco and Jordan in the interesting cost/benefit assessment of the ENP’s potential for reform in the southern Mediterranean in the political, economic and social arenas (53-77).

The analysis moves easily through the intricacies of the linkages between enlargement and the ENP’s Southern Mediterranean dimension in view of filling a gap in the literature. In fact, « while there are myriad studies that enquire into the lessons that the ENP towards Eastern partners can draw from enlargement, very little has been analysed regarding the lessons that the ENP towards Southern partners can draw from enlargement, and even less about the role that Turkey can play in this triangle » (157). This aspect represents a significant value-added with respect to the many other studies on the subject. Placing Turkey at the centre of the debate on enlargement and the ENP is particularly interesting at a time when Turkey is increasingly playing a central role in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

What is striking is the absolute homogeneity and sometimes repetitiveness of views and evaluations that emerge from the different sections of the book. On the one hand, this reinforces the book’s main arguments, for example, that countries in the various Mediterranean regions tend to share perceptions and preoccupations with regard to the ENP. On the other, however, it hampers the book’s cohesion of structure. Additionally, analysis oscillates between the academic and the operational. All in all, the book aptly underscores the shortcomings of the ENP in the Southern Mediterranean and draws some relevant policy-oriented conclusions – albeit scattered in its various sections – providing a useful tool for scholars, EU decision-makers and officials.


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