The paper considers the status of the European Neighbourhood Policy in the light of the new Financial Perspective 2007-2013 and of the present internal state of the European Union. Even if in theory the ENP could have been a valid substitute for enlargement, it does not seem to have reached its aim of providing an adequate surrogate for full membership. Considering the figures of the new Financial Perspective 2007-2013, the issue of market access, and the internal power dynamics of the EU, we see that it is hardly conceivable that the ENP could ever give to its neighbours the same economic advantages that membership gives to the poorer members of the EU. Another controversial aspect is the clear asymmetric nature of the ENP, whereby the payoff for neighbours is conditioned on their “good behaviour”, thus amounting to a form of soft imperialism. While ENP tries to establish a comprehensive and coherent framework of the EU’s relations with its neighbourhood, the actual behaviour of EU towards its neighbours is shown to present some inconsistences due to political expedience and pragmatic concerns. The consideration of some related basic issues of EU institutional reform, such as the weakening of the powers of the member states, or the introduction of some intermediate forms of partial membership, concludes the paper.
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