As the Arab Spring has made clear, the EU's strategic aim of being surrounded by a ring of secure, democratic, and prosperous friends has not yet materialized. While most previous analyses have found fault with inconsistent application of conditionality, this article locates the root of the problem with an the EU's institutional set-up. Starting from interviews and documentary analysis, it uses Armenia as a case study to demonstrate how competition within and between the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission has led to internal, horizontal, and vertical inconsistencies that have seriously hampered the EU's capacity to promote reforms. If recent institutional reforms have been designed to address precisely these problems, sociological rational choice and historical institutionalism suggest that it remains to be seen to what extent these recent reforms and initiatives will be able to bring about a change substantial enough to make the EU more successful in its neighbourhood.
gEuropean Foreign Affairs Review