The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) seeks to establish special relations with the neighbouring countries in Eastern Europe, the Southern Mediterranean and the Southern Caucasus for which accession is not in prospect. It was instituted as early as 2003 to share the benefits of enlargement with the neighbouring countries and avoid the emergence of new divisions, and forms part of the European security strategy.
The ENP focuses promoting democracy, freedom, prosperity, security and stability while building on existing relations with the various neighbouring countries. However, the establishment of such special relations depends on a mutual interest in upholding common values: democracy, the rule of law, human rights, good governance, the principles of a market economy and sustainable development.
The policy is put into effect by means of bilateral action plans reflecting the needs of the neighbour concerned and the reciprocal interests of that country and the Union. These plans set out an agenda for a period of three to five years, covering political and economic reforms, closer alignment of legislation with that of the Community, participation in certain Community programmes and the development or strengthening of cooperation and dialogue.
The pre-ENP bilateral agreements serve as a framework for pursuing the policy. The neighbouring countries also benefit from financial and technical assistance, mainly through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) for the period 2007 - 2013 (replacing the TACIS and MEDA programmes from 2000 to 2006).