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Brussels, 15 May 2012

Remarks by HRVP Catherine Ashton at the presentation of the ENP package 2012, Brussels, 15 May

It is very good to be here to be able to present progress from last year. You recall that last year we presented our review of the Neighbourhood Policy, during the ongoing historic changes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

We have said at the time that we stand by the three principles that have guided the review.

First, that the European Union should focus its support on those countries and governments most committed to political and economic reform - if you like the principle of 'more for more'.

Second, when our partners deliver on reforms we should deliver too. We call this mutual accountability - that the EU should live up to its side of the bargain in response to those who live up to their side.

And three, we should reach out directly to populations, to civil society, to opposition groups especially when governments block reform and won't engage with their people.

Let me just give you a few examples; Stefan of course will talk about some of the key examples as well.

For the Southern Mediterranean we have appointed a Special Representative who is helping us making those strong links with politicians, with civil society and who is working closely with our delegations on the ground, with the teams here in Bruxelles and with the Member States to provide for us the link between ourselves and those countries on a regular basis.

Everything that we have tried to do is within the framework of the post-Lisbon Treaty world, where we were able to bring together, if you would like, classical foreign policy, financial support, all of the different elements of what the European Union does. I describe this as economics meets politics. It helps us to support deep democracy, enabling the changes that can take place - not just elections, but the growth of institutions and the growth of the processes that you need to ensure elections follow elections and that you have a society that is able to be in control of the mandate of its own government. And that you also have economic growth and development.

And one of the examples of how we have taken that forward is through the idea of a task force. We had two so far, one in Tunisia, one in Jordan. They are innovations for the European Union. They bring together the institutions of European Union, the Member States, the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, international financial institutions in support of the same objectives. Also engaged are the MEP and the private sector - so we bring in a range of support to offer ways in which we can leverage the resources that we have.

For Tunisia that meant we were able to put together a package of about 4 billion Euros for a period of three years and for Jordan of about 3 billion Euros for the same time period. I want to mention as well the work that we're doing in Libya.

I met last night with the Deputy Prime Minister of Libya and we were reflecting on how the European Union had been at the forefront of the humanitarian response, disbursing 85 million Euros. We opened an office in Benghazi and the delegation in Tripoli, and Peter Zsoldos, our new ambassador to Tripoli, has arrived there this week. But also too how we made sure that we support civil societies with 10 million Euros, that we have helped to support the capacity building of that country and helped with primary education, and today there is a needs assessment team on the ground looking at the border management needs and being ready to finalize their report next week.

I should mention too of course the work that we've done in Egypt where the 20 million Euros we gave to civil society was the largest package ever given to one country for civil society support. That means freedom of expression, freedom of religion, support for women's rights. We will be deploying this week our EU electoral experts from the services and from member states to observe the preparation for elections and to witness the election day. And we will continue to encourage the transfer to civilian rule and the protection of human rights in Egypt.

Of course - as Stefan has always said, and is quoted many times – 'more for more' means also 'less for less'. Just a couple of examples. Syria is perhaps an extremely terrible example of where we have had to put now 15 rounds of sanctions trying to persuade the regime that Assad should go and that they should stop the violence. You know too that we have supported Kofi Annan and the European Union in Foreign Affairs Council yesterday confirmed its support to him. Our delegation is still open in Damascus and this week 25 armoured vehicles from the European Union arrived to support the monitoring mission and its work.

'Less for less' is also meant in an approach to Belarus where the repression of opposition and civil society has led us to adopt further sanctions against those responsible. But also we've launched the European Dialogue of Modernisation with the opposition and civil society. I just want to finish by saying that today I met with the Prime Minister of Ukraine to raise with him our concerns on what we describe as selective justice. We've initialled as you know an Association Agreement including a Free Trade Agreement, but signature and ratification remain on hold.

I would like to conclude these remarks by highlighting one of the areas that I'm concerned with and that we deal with - the role of women in those countries in transition. I've been very privileged to meet women in countries like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia. We need to ensure that women play their full part in society, in the political and economic life of their countries, not just because of course it's the right thing to do, but because it makes economic and political sense. I would argue women should be at the heart of all the transformations that follow.

Thank you.

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