The European Union's northern dimension : a case of foreign policy 'by the backdoor'?
The thesis will examine, broadly speaking, the external relations of the European Union (EU) with its Northern neighbours in the light of the development of a new policy dedicated to this purpose: the Northern Dimension. In the thesis it is argued that the Northern Dimension deviates significantly from previous policies that the EU has developed to deal with its neighbours due to a number of elements: the absence of a dedicated budget line, the involvement of "outsiders" in the implementation phase, e.g. the regional organisations like the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, and the horizontal agenda based on tangible issues like environment threats, including nuclear wastes management, fight against organised crime and health issues. While analysing the content of the initiative, attention will be devoted to the political process that has led to the creation of the Northern Dimension. Particular emphasis will be attached to elements like the role of small member states in the definition of the foreign policy interests of the EU and the political dynamics characterising the relations among the EU institutions, in particular the Commission and the EU Council, when it comes to shaping the relations with key neighbouring countries. In the final part of the work a comparison will drawn between the Northern Dimension and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP), the policy that the EU has set up to deal with its Southern neighbours. The most important element emerging from the comparative analysis reflects the claim that the development of a grand strategy and the allocation of significant resources, as the case of the EMP demonstrates, are not necessarily ingredients that lead to a successful policy towards the neighbouring areas. It will be demonstrated that the Northern Dimension has been comparatively more successful and effective than the EMP, hanks to the political perseverance of the Nordic (EU) member states, the active participation of the regional organisations and the focus on a "low-politics" well-prioritised political agenda.