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Fuzzy Politics Around Fuzzy Borders: The European Union's `Near Abroad'

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 17:27 authored by Thomas Christiansen, Fabio PetitoFabio Petito, Ben Tonra
The external borders of the European Union (EU) are becoming increasingly difficult to delineate as it exports policies to states beyond its own membership. While the EU possesses a clearly defined membership, its borders are `fuzzy'. The purpose of this paper is to consider the impact of these `fuzzy' borders on the EU's neighbours - and its resulting `fuzzy' politics. Two case studies are considered: the Baltic States and the Mediterranean. In each, the authors seek to assess the impact of EU relations with these two regions. Four tentative conclusions are drawn. First, the EU is indeed surrounded by regions that can be regarded as intermediate spaces between the inside and outside of the Union, and these regions have indeed become the targets of significant `policy-export'. Over time, the EU has developed substantial interests and significant influence in what can be called the `near abroad'. Second, the EU does not possess a coherent policy of dealing with this `near abroad'. An uneasy mix of initiatives often contradicts the stated goal of region-to-region relations. Third, EU relations with the two regions actually appear to serve rather opposing functions - simultaneously facilitating enlargement and non-enlargement. Finally, the regional impact of EU policies varies considerably as a consequence of the different geo-political and institutional context in the two regions.


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  • Published


Cooperation and Conflict




SAGE Publications





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  • International Relations Publications

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