This paper reviews the state of the art literature on social learning, norm transfer and promotion of good governance in relation to European enlargements and the policies of the European Union (EU) in its Eastern neighbourhood. By looking at how the EU regularly tried to adapt its toolbox to changing international and national contexts, the paper argues that the literature often evolved by following the difficulties the EU had to face in transferring its own norms abroad. In order to better understand the mechanisms of policy transfer, the paper suggests to link international and domestic factors in the theoretical approaches to EU external governance. The paper also offers some constructive ideas on how to broaden the existing research agenda and proposes to attribute more value to the expertise coming from the EU member states and partner countries.