The Eastern Partnership: Soft Power Strategy or Policy Failure?

Kristian L. Nielsen, Maili Vilson

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


    When the EU launched the Eastern Partnership (EaP) in 2009, it did so with much rhetoric about projecting its soft power into Eastern Europe. Yet today, the EU's soft power project seems to have stalled, with developments in the region being less than favourable. This article argues that the EaP essentially replicated the main weaknesses of the European Neighbourhood Policy, by offering too little incentive and support to the partners, rendering both conditionality and soft power ineffective as tools for milieu shaping. In promoting the EaP as a policy of soft power, the EU has once again forgotten that soft power can never be separated from the 'harder' policies that would meet the expectations of those wishing to align with it. This failure of policy continues to largely negate the EU's actually considerable reservoir of potential soft power in Eastern Europe.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEuropean Foreign Affairs Review
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)243-262
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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