Brussels, 23 April 2009
EU reinforces ties with its neighbours and
continues to support their reforms
In its annual Progress Reports, the European
Commission takes stock of the concrete reform achievements made by countries
within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in 2008 and identifies the areas
where further efforts are needed. In a policy paper on the implementation of the
ENP presented today, the Commission provides an overview of developments in 12
ENP countries. It also highlights the impact of the financial crisis on them and
proposes a number of ways the EU could contribute to their recovery process.
Despite a difficult context in 2008, marked by political and economic challenges
and an overall slowdown of reform momentum notably in the field of governance,
many achievements have been registered by the partner countries in key areas of
cooperation such as much closer political contacts, increased trade, deeper
cooperation on research and innovation, more youth mobility, etc. Ties were also
substantially strengthened through two new regional frameworks which complement
the differentiated bilateral relations: the Union for the Mediterranean and the
Eastern Partnership. Individual country reports for each country with an ENP
and a sectoral report accompany the policy paper.
“The year 2008 has clearly demonstrated the strategic importance of
the European Neighbourhood Policy. The economic and financial crisis, violent
conflicts in our neighbourhood and political instability all impact on the
security and prosperity of EU citizens. Therefore, it remains crucial for the EU
to provide tangible, targeted and credible support to our neighbours to create
mutual security and prosperity dividends" said Benita Ferrero-Waldner,
Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy.
Despite a generally difficult context (global economic and financial crisis,
conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008, Israel's intervention in
Gaza in December 2008/January 2009), the EU’s relations with its
neighbours have further intensified in 2008. Europe's partners have shown
progress in reforming their economies and providing better opportunities for
their societies through modernisation efforts.
Benita Ferrero-Waldner added: "Despite the difficult international context in
2008, the ENP has continued to yield results and was further deepened by two new
initiatives: the Union for the Mediterranean and the Eastern Partnership. Our
partners have made considerable progress in key areas, such as trade, taxation
and a better business environment, but need to do significantly more especially
on political reforms, good governance and human rights. The ENP will therefore
continue to serve as the EU's instrument to encourage reforms in its immediate
Political cooperation was strengthened
- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine aligned themselves
with the vast majority of the Common Foreign and Security Policy declarations
with which they were invited to align, speaking with the EU in one voice in the
- The European Commission co-chaired a donor conference for the
Palestinians (with a pledge of €440 million in 2008) and
supports political stabilization and national reconciliation (electoral reform)
- The EU played a crucial role in agreeing a cease-fire in Georgia
during the armed conflict with Russia, supported its territorial integrity,
rapidly sent EU observers on the ground, provided immediate humanitarian aid for
internally displaced persons and sponsored the Geneva talks for resolution of
the conflict. The EC co-chaired an international donor conference for Georgia,
and pledged up to €500 million for the period
Economic integration and trade exchanges were
- Ukraine joined the World Trade Organisation and is negotiating with
the EU a deep and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement within the context of the
new Association Agreement (the first of this kind with the Eastern
- Studies exploring the possibility of future deep and comprehensive free
trade agreements with Georgia and Armenia have been
- Trade negotiations on agricultural and fisheries products were concluded
with Egypt, Israel and are ongoing with Morocco and
Tunisia. Negotiations on the liberalisation of services and establishment
started with Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
- For the ENP countries the EU is the main trading partner. In 2008 exports to
the EU rose by double digits in the cases of Egypt, Jordan,
Lebanon and Ukraine.
Visa facilitation and fight
against illegal migration
- Visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Ukraine and
Moldova entered into force on 1 January 2008.
- In October 2008 a visa dialogue with Ukraine was launched with
the aim of establishing a visa free regime as a long term perspective. .A
dialogue with Georgia was strengthened with a view to conclude visa
facilitation and readmission agreements and launching a Mobility Partnership to
facilitate legal migration while combating illegal migration. Such a Mobility
Partnership was launched with Moldova in mid-2008.
- Political dialogue and security co-operation on fight against illegal
migration was deepened with Morocco.
- Tunisia upgraded its equipment and infrastructure to
strengthen border control and adopted new biometric passports, nevertheless
illegal immigration of Tunisian origin increased significantly in
Cooperation on justice
- The conditions for training of Palestinian judges and prosecutors
were improved by the establishment of the EC-funded Palestinian Judicial
Training Institute. Specialized training for judges, lawyers and clerks is being
prepared in Lebanon.
- The Commission supplied vehicles to the Palestinian Civil Police
enhancing significantly its effectiveness.
- Georgia registered significant progress in the fight against
corruption, improved detention conditions and the combat of torture and ill-
- New legislation in Armenia on refugees and asylum aims at the
approximation to EU and international standards.
cooperation entered into new phase
- Negotiations were launched on accession of Moldova and
Ukraine to the Energy Community Treaty, which includes commitments
for gradual convergence with EU internal energy market rules.
- The EU’s financing is crucial for Ukraine’s nuclear
energy security by upgrading soviet-type reactors. The EC continue to assist
Armenia financially in ensuring minimum safety standards in
Medzamor nuclear power plant.
- The EU signed a Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation with
Egypt - an important energy producer. Azerbaijan is a
strategic partner for the EU on Caspian oil and gas resources both as a producer
and a transit country.
- Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the European Commission
re-launched trilateral energy co-operation “Solar for Peace” while
the Palestinian Authority developed plans for a solar plant in Jericho.
- The Union for the Mediterranean Summit in 13 July 2008 endorsed the
Mediterranean Solar Plan as a priority initiative for the Union for the
Mediterranean: Barcelona Process.
Transport links are
- The air transport agreement with Morocco since 2007 has lead to an
increase of the traffic by 17% so far with creation of 52 new connection lines
and entry on the market of 12 new air companies. It reduces fares and improves
choice for tourists, while helping to build tourist industry and provide
employment. Negotiations on a similar agreement were launched with
Ukraine and are planned with Georgia.
- Horizontal air transport agreements were signed with Armenia,
Israel and Jordan and negotiations on Euro-Mediterranean
aviation agreements with the last two countries were launched.
- In South Caucasus rehabilitation of the Yerevan-Tbilisi
(Armenia-Georgia) railway line was launched.
- Financial contributions from the Neighbourhood Investment Facility support
projects as: a tramway in Rabat and construction of rural roads in
Morocco, modernization of Chisinau airport and road rehabilitation in
And more ...
- EC supports financially NGO’s and local authorities in
Egypt, Georgia, Jordan, the occupied
Palestinian territory, Tunisia and Ukraine.
- Financial support for the reform of the educational system in Morocco
aims at reducing illiteracy (reaching 38% of the population, in majority women).
- The situation of women and protection of their rights was further improved
in Jordan, Tunisia and Egypt.
- The EU’s support allowed the instauration of the obligatory health
insurance in Morocco and is a crucial factor in the reform of the health
sector in Moldova.
- Improvement of water distribution in Jordan financed by the EU
addresses the needs of Iraqi refugees in Zarqa region.
- The Community Civil Protection Mechanism was mobilised in 2008 to help
Georgia following war with Russia and to help Ukraine and
Moldova to cope with tragic floods.
- Israel (as an associated member), Egypt,
Jordan and Morocco, in particular, have been successful
participants in the first calls under 7th Framework Research Programme.
- There was a significant increase in the number of young people from ENP
countries in voluntary services actions under the EU Youth in Action (+87.5%) as
well as marked increase in exchanges for young people and youth workers
Building on the Barcelona Process, the Union for the
Mediterranean has given renewed vigour to Europe’s relationship with
its Southern neighbours. The European Commission has also proposed an ambitious
Eastern Partnership with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova
and Ukraine, offering a wide and ambitious agenda for deepening the EU's ties to
The EU assistance to ENP partners has also increased in 2008: €1.71
billion was committed in comparison to €1.67 billion committed in
The Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the
Council on the Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2008,
(Brussels 23 April 2009) and individual country reports for Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan,
Lebanon, Morocco, Moldova, the occupied Palestinian territory, Tunisia
and Ukraine and the Sectoral Progress Report can be found at
Memos summarising the situation of each country are available at
occupied Palestinian territory MEMO/09/181
For more on the ENP : http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/index_en.htm
 Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Moldova, the occupied
Palestinian territory, Tunisia and Ukraine.