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European Neighbourhood Policy: recommendations for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and for Egypt and Lebanon

This report presents the key elements of the Commission's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Country Reports on Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Egypt and Lebanon, with a contribution from the High Representative on areas linked to political cooperation and the CFSP. It also presents recommendations to the Council on preparations for Action Plans with countries of the Southern Caucasus

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the Council - European Neighbourhood Policy - Recommendations for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and for Egypt and Lebanon [COM (2005) 0072 final - not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

In June 2004, the Council decided, as recommended by the Commission, to include Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The Commission drew up European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Country Reports on these countries, presenting an overview of the political, economic, sectoral, administrative and other aspects. It also drew up reports on Egypt and Lebanon after Association Agreements with those countries entered into force. This communication, which accompanies those national reports, presents their key elements, and makes recommendations on Action Plans with countries of the Southern Caucasus.

Armenia

The ENP report notes that the entry into force of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in 1999 marked an important stage in EU-Armenia relations. Armenia's accession to the WTO in 2003 indicates that it has made progress towards key market-oriented reforms. The aligning of Armenian legislation with that of the EU and the adoption of an anti-corruption strategy are other important steps.

The report however also indicates that several important challenges remain, notably regarding democracy and human rights, respect for the rule of law, the development of civil society and improvements in the tax and customs systems. The Armenian government has declared its determination to address these challenges, to develop relations with the EU and to achieve greater integration with European structures.

In its communication, the Commission expressed the opinion that an Action Plan might help achieve these objectives and foster the implementation of the necessary reforms, and that such a plan should focus on:

  • strengthening the rule of law, democratic structures and pluralism;
  • improvements in respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  • improvements in the business climate and public sector modernisation;
  • effective combating of corruption and fraud;
  • reform of tax and customs administrations and legislation;
  • progress in poverty reduction;

Given the present political, economic and institutional context, the Action Plan should provide in particular for:

  • strengthening political dialogue;
  • support to the implementation of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement;
  • support for market economy reforms;
  • further support for economic rehabilitation of conflict zones.

Azerbaijan

The ENP report notes that the entry into force of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in 1999 marked an important stage in EU-Azerbaijan relations, which have developed steadily in recent years. Today's dialogue is much more focused and cooperation has been strengthened notably in the energy and transport sectors.

Among the challenges that remain the report lists the need to strengthen the rule of law, democratic checks and balances, the fight against corruption and fraud, and the protection of human rights. Further improvement of the investment climate and diversification of economic activity are other key factors. The Azerbaijani government has declared its determination to address these challenges, to develop relations with the EU and to achieve greater integration with European structures.

In its communication, the Commission expressed the opinion that an Action Plan might help to achieve these objectives and foster the implementation of the necessary reforms, and that such a plan should focus on:

  • strengthening the rule of law, democratic structures and pluralism;
  • implementation of effective reforms in the field of the rule of law;
  • enhanced protection of human rights and of freedom and independence of the media;
  • increased efforts towards a balanced development of the overall economic system;
  • improvements in the business climate and public sector modernisation;
  • reform of tax and customs administrations and legislation.

Given the present political, economic and institutional context, the Action Plan should provide in particular for:

  • strengthening political dialogue;
  • further support to the implementation of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement;
  • support for market economy reforms;
  • further support for economic rehabilitation of conflict zones.

Georgia

The ENP report recalls that the entry into force of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in 1999 marked an important stage in EU-Georgia relations, and that, after a period of insufficient progress towards democracy and market economy, the "Rose Revolution" in November 2003 was therefore welcomed by the EU and the broader international community. An extensive reform programme was launched, and results included the fight against certain forms of corruption, improvements in tax collection, salaries and pensions paid on time, the curbing of smuggling and good macro-economic performance.

The major challenges singled out in the report include the need to strengthen the rule of law and democratic checks and balances, in particular to facilitate the fight against corruption. Further improvement of the investment climate will be a key factor in the economic field. Other important points include support to the implementation of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, and improvements in relations with Georgia and Russia. The Georgian government has declared its determination to address these challenges, to develop relations with the EU and to achieve greater integration with European structures.

In its communication, the Commission expressed the opinion that an Action Plan might help achieve these objectives and foster the implementation of the necessary reforms, and that such a plan should focus on:

  • strengthening the rule of law and enhanced human rights protection;
  • strengthening democratic structures and pluralism;
  • improvements in the business climate and public sector modernisation;
  • reform of tax and customs administrations and legislation;
  • effective combating of corruption and fraud;
  • a transparent privatisation process;

Given the present political, economic and institutional context, the Action Plan should provide in particular for:

  • strengthening political dialogue;
  • further support to the implementation of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement;
  • support for market economy reforms;
  • further support for economic rehabilitation of conflict zones.

Egypt and Lebanon

As a basis for the preparation of Action Plans, the Commission has prepared ENP reports on Egypt and Lebanon. For both countries, the full implementation of the Association Agreements remains the primary objective of bilateral relations. The ENP goes beyond this to offer the prospect of an increasingly close relationship involving a high degree of economic integration and a deepening of political cooperation.

In its communication, the Commission indicated its intention to initiate as soon as possible formal consultations with Egypt and (after the election) with Lebanon with the aim of concluding Action Plans. The key priorities of these Action Plans would cover two broad areas:

  • commitments to specific actions intended to reinforce adherence to shared values in areas including the respect for international obligations, democracy and the rule of law;
  • commitments to actions which will bring these partner countries closer to the EU in a number of priority fields such as economic and social development policy, and trade and the internal market.

Conclusions and recommendations

The reports on Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia indicate the need for continued reform in the countries of the Southern Caucasus. In its communication, the Commission considers that Action Plans could be useful tools to further strengthen relations between these countries and the EU. On the basis of the Country Reports on Egypt and Lebanon, the Commission will begin preparing Action Plans with each of these countries. The Action Plans should have a duration of three to five years. The Commission, with a contribution from the High Representative on political cooperation and CFSP issues, will present a mid-term review of progress in two years' time and a further review three years after the formal approval of each Action Plan.

Background

The Commission's European Neighbourhood Policy policy document laid down the guidelines for the coming years. It was accompanied by Country Reports on Israel, Jordan, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Tunisia and Ukraine, the first neighbouring countries with which contractual relations were already in force.

Last updated: 10.04.2006

See also

For more information about the European Neighbourhood Policy, please go to the dedicated ENP website.

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