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New neighbourhood policy strategy

The European Neighbourhood Policy contributes to the stability, prosperity and sustainable development of countries bordering the European Union (EU). This policy is the subject of a new, more ambitious strategy to take account of the progress made by the partner countries and the new challenges which they may face.

ACT

Joint Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 25 May 2011 - A new response to a changing Neighbourhood [COM(2011) 303 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

By presenting a new strategy for the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the Commission intends to improve its support for the processes of reform undertaken by its partner countries.

This new approach is based on greater differentiation by country of the cooperation objectives. Therefore, the action plans for each country that set the priorities for the short and medium term must be more targeted and more flexible in order to be able to be adapted to new financial priorities if necessary.

The strategy also aims to:

  • increase the conditionality of financial assistance, which can be increased or restricted depending on the progress made concerning democracy and human rights;
  • support inclusive economic development, which promotes trade, investment, sustainable development, and reducing unemployment;
  • strengthen regional synergies between the partners, within the Eastern Partnership and the Union for the Mediterranean, particularly in the areas of trade, energy, transport, migration and mobility.

Supporting democracy

The strategy creates new instruments for promoting democracy and human rights:

  • a European Endowment for Democracy aimed at democratic political parties representing a broad spectrum of views, non-governmental organisations and social partners;
  • a Civil Society Facility, which is essential in any democratic society.

Establishing deep and sustainable democracies also requires stronger partnership on matters of political cooperation and security. The partners must conduct a more continuous political dialogue at a bilateral level and within regional bodies. Their joint action must be strengthened at international level.

Promoting sustainable and inclusive growth

The partner countries are encouraged to adopt policies which promote economic growth, the business environment and investment, and reduce the differences in development between regions.

Economic growth should lead to higher levels of employment and social inclusion. The ENP therefore provides for political dialogue for macroeconomic reforms, employment and social affairs. The Commission also suggests that agricultural and rural development projects are launched to combat poverty.

Lastly, the creation of Free Trade Areas should be encouraged to strengthen trade ties between the partners, and regional integration. The European Union (EU) is the main import and export market for the ENP partners. In this context, those countries not wishing to embark on free trade negotiations can benefit from trade concessions and mutual acceptance agreements on the conformity of industrial products.

Enhancing cooperation

Certain areas of sector cooperation must be enhanced, in particular for:

  • knowledge, research and innovation, including through student and academic staff mobility;
  • partner participation in EU programmes and the work of EU agencies.

Similar enhanced cooperation is also planned to improve energy security, environmental protection, transport, communication technologies, and tackling climate change.

Partners whose reforms are the most advanced can begin a process of visa facilitation.

Financing

This new strategy is presented in the last programming phase of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). Its resources need to be increased and oriented towards new priorities.

The financial resources of the ENP can be diversified by having recourse to other European thematic instruments and crisis intervention mechanisms.

In addition, the options for financing through loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) must be increased. These banks must be able to act jointly, including for the financing of development operations of large infrastructure and connectivity projects.

Last updated: 16.09.2011

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