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From Brussels with love: leverage, benchmarking, and the action plans with Jordan and Tunisia in the EU's democratization policy

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With the adoption of the European neighbourhood policy (ENP) in 2003, the European Union (EU) for the first time introduced benchmarking procedures in the realm of democracy promotion, while also establishing the principles of ‘positive conditionality’ and differentiation. In order to exploit its full potential, however, this strategy must be able to define how political development can effectively be measured and monitored, along with the benchmarks chosen for this purpose. Applying insights of democratic and transition theories to the Action Plans concluded with Jordan and Tunisia, the contribution shows that the ENP suffers from the absence of analytical depth as far as concepts and processes of democratization are concerned, along with an arbitrary and largely useless selection of pseudo-benchmarks. While undermining the effectiveness of the leverage model of democratization policies, the EU's lack of clarity and determination seriously contradicts the declared objectives of its democracy promotion policy.

Keywords: EU foreign policy; European neighbourhood policy; Jordan; North Africa and the Middle East; Tunisia; benchmarking; democracy promotion; leverage

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: The Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies/Middle East Centre, St Antony's College,University of Oxford, Oxford, UK 2: Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology (CIES),Lisbon University Institute (ISCTE-IUL), Lisbon, Portugal

Publication date: 2011-08-01

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