How does the European Union do justice to the special proximity relationship with its neighboring states? This paper approaches the topic of European neighborhood relations with a normative approach. It analyzes what potential Art. 8 TEU holds for neighborhood relations. The view of Art. 8 TEU largely detaches itself from the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and thus opens a new approach to the political concept of European neighborhood relations. The analysis of the norm shows a neighborhood area that stands out in the system of European external relations especially because of its privileging effect and its autonomy.

On the basis of the association agreement with Ukraine, the ENP as the status quo of European neighborhood relations is put into relation with the neighborhood area. This comparison reveals that the status quo does not exhaust the potential of Art. 8 TEU.

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