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Brussels, 5 December 2007

A Strong European Neighbourhood Policy – further efforts are needed

Further efforts from the EU side are necessary to make a reality of the proposals already made to strengthen the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). A new Communication from Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, sets out what actions are needed by the Member States and the Commission, particularly in the fields of trade, mobility and tackling frozen conflicts in the EU’s neighbourhood. A number of actions are foreseen in 2008 to reinforce sectoral reforms in the neighbourhood countries. A further communication next spring will address the performance of the neighbourhood partners, with progress reports on each.

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said: "We are now in the implementation phase of the Neighbourhood Policy. This is a jointly owned initiative, and implementation requires action on both sides, by the EU, and its neighbours. Today's Communication sets out where we need to see additional efforts by the Commission and Member States to ensure that the promises made to our partners are kept, and that the incentives for reform that we have offered are concrete, credible and relevant to their needs".

The Communication sets the following objectives for 2008 and beyond:

  • Greater political commitment to foster economic integration and improve market access. The Communication calls on Member States to support ongoing agricultural negotiations, in particular limiting the number of products excluded from full liberalisation.
  • The facilitation of legitimate short-term travel, as well as more ambitious longer term developments in managed migration. The Commission urges the Council and the European Parliament to adopt its 2006 " package" on visas, and to make full use of the opportunities under existing rules to facilitate travel.
  • Further engagement with ENP partners in tackling frozen conflicts, using the full range of instruments at the EU's disposal, to stabilise conflict and post-conflict areas.
  • Intensified EU support for partner countries’ sectoral reforms in areas such as: energy, climate change, fisheries, transport, maritime policy, research, information society, education, employment and social policy.

Since the Communication proposing measures to strengthen ENP, a number of the items suggested then have already been implemented:

  • The Commission has decided today on its first €50 million allocation to the Neighbourhood Investment Facility to be committed by the end of this year. Some Member States have already signalled their intention to contribute to the Facility. Operation of the facility will begin in 2008.
  • The first allocations have been made under the new Governance Facility, which provides additional support to partner countries that have made most progress in implementing the governance priorities in their action plans. Morocco (€28 million) and Ukraine (€22 million) are the first recipients.
  • The Black Sea Synergy has been launched to provide a regional dimension for the Eastern Neighbourhood
  • Negotiations to enable neighbours to participate in EU programmes and agencies are underway with Israel, Morocco and Ukraine. The imminent signature of the Protocol with Israel will enable it to become the first ENP partner to participate in the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme.
  • The European Neighbourhood Policy, a partnership for reform with the neighbouring countries to the South and to the East, has already produced tangible, concrete results[1]. It has allowed a substantial deepening of the Union’s relations with some of its close neighbours (EU offer is directed to Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine)[2], according to the principle of the differentiation that enables those who wish to engage more deeply with the EU to do so.

The ENP goes beyond classical political cooperation to include elements of economic integration, as well as support for reforms to stimulate economic and social development. The tool to achieve these reforms are the commonly agreed Action Plans scheduled for 3-5 years with precise commitments to promote economic modernisation, strengthen the rule of law, democracy and the respect for human rights and to cooperate on key foreign policy objectives.
ENP Stockshots:
For more information on the ENP

[1] See MEMO/07/548

[2] It does not cover the EFTA/EEA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), the candidate and potential candidate countries (Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia including Kosovo) and Russia.

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