A new and ambitious European Neighbourhood Policy seeks to strengthen relationships between the EU and countries in its neighbourhood with more funds, but also greater accountability.
Adopted on 24 May by High Representative Catherine Ashton and the European Commission, the renewed European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) builds on the achievements since the Neighbourhood Policy was first launched in 2004, and responds to the aspirations of people for more democracy and prosperity. It offers new types of support for more sections of society, and introduces more incentives to pursue reform. It further develops the ‘Partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean’, agreed in March 2011.
‘With so much of our Neighbourhood in a process of democratic change, this review is more important than ever. It is vital that we in the EU make a comprehensive offer to our neighbours and build with them lasting partnerships to reinforce deep and lasting democracy and promote economic prosperity,’ said HR Ashton.
In addition to the €5 700 million already available for 2011-2013 under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), an extra €1 240 million will be transferred from existing resources.
The renewed ENP would have six core pillars:
Free and fair elections need to be accompanied by respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms. All this will be done in partnership with the whole of society, not just the government. The EU will do this by establishing partnerships within each neighbouring country and making EU support more accessible to civil society organisations through a Civil Society Facility. A European Endowment for Democracy will also help political parties and non-registered NGOs and trade unions.
The proposal outlines how the EU will become more involved in solving protracted conflicts in the region.
The key to creating jobs, boosting growth and improving social protection is trade. With this in mind, the EU has various plans to improve the business environment in the region. These include bringing investors together, extending the operational area of the European Investment Fund (EIF) and negotiating ‘deep and comprehensive free trade areas’ with willing and able partners.
Mobility Partnerships are comprehensive frameworks for the EU, its Member States and the partner country which aim to facilitate well-managed access to legal migration channels, and to strengthen capacities for border management and combating irregular migration. A major goal is to enhance the mobility of citizens between partner countries and the EU, in particular for students, researchers and businesspeople.
Working with Eastern neighbours, the EU commits to implementing Association Agreements, pursuing democratisation and visa liberalisation, enhancing sectoral cooperation, particularly in rural development, and working more with civil society.
With Southern countries, the EU would launch institution-building programmes, collaborate closely on migration, mobility and security and launch pilot programmes to support agricultural and rural development.
The additional €1 240 million will be used to support growth and fund new initiatives, particularly collaboration with civil society and rural and regional development.
The proposals follow a review of the existing ENP as well as consultations with governments and civil society organisations from the EU and the Mediterranean region over the last year.