Rethinking EU enlargement

Pastoral power, ambivalence, and the case of Turkey

Authored by: Dan Bulley , David Phinnemore

The Routledge Handbook of Critical European Studies

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138589919
eBook ISBN: 9780429491306
Adobe ISBN:


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European Commissioners have long described enlargement as the EU's most successful foreign and security policy (Füle 2014; Patten 2005, 152). Academics have often agreed: ‘The successful transformation, democratization, stabilization and incorporation of the neighbouring countries has been one of the most significant foreign policy achievements of the EU’ (Bindi 2010, 31). Though this ‘success' may be controversial, it is certainly a peculiar foreign policy, a strange way of relating to the ‘external’. The premise of enlargement is to transform the foreign and external into the familiar, the internal, and domestic. In a sense, its closest comparator would be pre-modern forms of empire-building in which contiguous territories were conquered and brought within the control of the imperial centre. 1 Yet, with the EU's enlargement policy there is no centre; it requires the acquiescence of multiple institutions spread throughout the continent. And enlargement involves no warfare. Rather than physical violence, enlargement operates via choice, bureaucracy, and reform undertaken both willingly and reluctantly by the acceding state. It therefore involves the exercise of power and resistance, even if not in forms that are the common currency of politics and international relations. What kind of power is this then? And how do we account for its failure when it comes to resistant cases, such as Turkey?

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