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Štefan Füle

European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy

A new and ambitious European Neighbourhood Policy

European Neighbourhood Policy Review

Brussels, 25 May 2011

With so much of our Neighbourhood in a process of democratic change, this review is more important than ever. It is vital that we in the EU make a comprehensive offer to our neighbours and build lasting partnerships in our neighbourhood to reinforce democracy and inclusive economic and social development. This is why Cathy and I are launching today our vision for a refocused and innovative European Neighbourhood Policy ENP -- confirming the EU’s determined and reinforced engagement with its neighbours.

The ENP review has coincided with political developments of historic proportions in the EU’s southern neighbourhood. The Communication builds on the “Partnership for Democracy and shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean” adopted in March 2011. It makes concrete proposals on how the work on the Partnership will be taken forward, including in terms of funding.

The Communication also looks eastwards. We need to further strengthen the Eastern Partnership, bolster democracy in our Eastern neighbours and prepare for a successful 2nd Eastern Partnership summit in September in Warsaw.

A number of our neighbours are undergoing important transformations. In the interest of their prosperity and stability, as well as our own, we need to respond with determination and ambition, drawing the right lessons from both successes and shortcomings.

Cathy has already underlined the principle “more for more”. In this context, let me make it clear that increased European Union support to its neighbours is conditional. There are actually five benchmarks - you will find in the Communication – against which European Union will assess progress and adapt the levels of support. Benchmarks like free and fare elections, freedom of association, assembly, expression, free press and media, rule of law, independent of justice or judiciary, fight against corruption. Last but not least security and law reinforce sector reform.

But mutual accountability runs both ways. If we are funding things which are not having the desired effect we will be held to account or if we fail to deliver on aspects the countries have requested: market access, mobility partnerships etc. we will also be held accountable by our Neighbours.

The new approach proposed in the Communication aims to:

  • provide greater support to partners engaged in building democratic societies;

  • support more effectively inclusive economic development;

  • strengthen the two regional dimensions of the European Neighbourhood Policy, namely the Eastern Partnership and the Partnership for Democracy and shared Prosperity

  • provide the mechanisms and instruments fit to deliver the above objectives.

Enhanced EU support will come in various forms, including increased funding, ambitious programmes for institution-building, greater market access, increased EIB financing in support of investments; and greater facilitation of mobility.

The Communication also provides detail on how the four broad objectives of the new approach will be pursued in practice. There are numerous concrete proposals. They concern, in particular:

  • developing a real partnership with societies, not just with governments, and supporting more effectively civil society organisations;

  • intensifying our political and security cooperation, in line with the Lisbon Treaty;

  • promoting sustainable growth and job creation;

  • strengthening trade ties (e.g. through Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas);

  • easing mobility (e.g. through the conclusion of visa liberalisation agreements or mobility partnerships),

  • deepening sector integration (e.g. through the integration in a pan-European energy market or participation in EU programmes and agencies) and closer cooperation in critical areas such as environment protection and climate change, information and communication technologies, transport and security.

To achieve these goals, the Communication suggests engaging in more intensive political steering of our relationships with our partners, to ensure a more effective setting of priorities.

Cathy was already talking about the financing. I think that this is an important part of the Communication. That in addition to the already committed resources - EUR 5.7 billion for 2011-2013 – we have been able to come out with additional EUR 1242 million.

And let me mention two important things from my perspective. First… when we have started with Cathy this review process we have started this process not only with the Member States but also with our partners. We had a deliberate set of consultations involving not only authorities but also civil societies and we are determined to continue that cooperation, determined to strengthen this sense of honourship also on the side of our neighbours to ensure that this moving target in our neighbourhood is well served soon and in a flexible framework.

And last but not least let me thank you Cathy for the excellent cooperation on this paper, thanks to you and to your team. I think that after we have delivered jointly on the 8th of March Communication this is an excellent cooperation and we have turned the European Neighbourhood Policy into a real instrument for change in our neighbourhood.

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