In the early 21st century globalisation has radically transformed the whole world. In the rapidly globalising world the main issue for the EU is globalisation-cum-regionalisation, namely to increase policy cooperation with its own neighbourhood to strengthen its global position and to avoid systemic failure in its partner countries by offering them a win-win game through regional organisations. Globalisation has unleashed the process of regionalisation at various levels, so restructuring the political space around the globe. New territorial units have been organised in order to be able to withstand the pressure of globalisation, and to be more effective in the global competition that has also generated the need for global governance. The basic principle in the recent regionalisation efforts by the EU is ‘integrative balancing’, empowering unequal external partners through meaningful cooperation. In this spirit the EU has recently transformed its global policy in both aspects of globalisation-cum-regionalisation. It has accelerated common institution building with neighbouring states. The EU has also established an active cooperation framework with the newly emerging global powers as ‘strategic partners’. Altogether, the European Council concluded in October 2010 that ‘wider governance reform should be delivered’ in the EU’s global policy.
The rise of the multilateral world order requires a clear EU strategy for the regionalisation of its own neighbourhood. The increasing tensions in both the southern and eastern rims have also been pushing the EU in this direction.
The EU regionalisation strategy needs an institutional separation of the southern and the eastern mega-regions, given the basic differences between them concerning ‘European perspectives’, that is, their different opportunities for EU membership.
There can be no gap between the polity and policy approaches in EU regionalisation. This means that the EU cannot extend its regulative regimes to neighbouring regions without building proper common institutions with the partner states concerned in those policy fields, in which common policies have been intensified.
Integrative balancing mechanisms have to be invented and implemented by the EU in order to upgrade its partner states instead of simply imposing strict conditionalities upon them.