open access

Abstract

Turkey, Croatia, and the Western Balkans are negotiating with the EU on accession.  Ukraine, Belarus and others are good neighbours, and Russia is a strategic partner. Internally, the EU shows forms of differentiated integration. Does the EU, externally, pursue a geometric model of disintegration? On the one hand, this article examines the current foreign policy tools applied to third countries aspiring towards integration into the European Union. On the other hand, it develops future scenarios of the economic and political integration of these countries.
The ‘ring of friends’ is moulded together in several different layers, and as it grows its material does not necessarily become more compact. Whether it will be strong enough or is doomed to break up, thus leading to disintegration on the continent, remains to be seen.