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European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
Presentation of the European Neighbourhood Policy Review to the European Parliament
AFET European Parliament
Brussels, 25 May 2011
I am happy to present to you today, also on behalf of Cathy Ashton, this Communication, the product of intensive work over the last year. This included many meetings with you and the resolutions prepared by Mr David and Mr Siwiec.
The Communication reflects the result of the ENP review process; the new institutional architecture introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon as well as the recent developments of historic proportion in the EU’s southern neighbourhood. It also builds on the “Partnership for Democracy and shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean”.
It also looks eastwards. We need to further strengthen the Eastern Partnership. Great challenges remain before us to our East, including Belarus, where we must help the people bring democracy to their country.
The Communication is built around four central themes: deep democracy, mutual accountability, conditionality and differentiation namely more for more.
A key objective of the Communication is to support deep and sustainable democracy in our neighbourhood. This is not just an idealistic goal. Events in the South Mediterranean have shown that only such democracy can ensure real stability, prosperity and security.
The ENP is also based on mutual accountability and conditionality which works both ways. If a partner country wishes to obtain greater support from the EU, to obtain closer political support from the EU, to participate in the EU internal market, to ensure greater mobility for its citizens, then it will have to demonstrate clear commitments to a number of significant political reforms.
The increased EU support to its neighbours is conditional. There are concrete benchmarks against which the EU will assess progress such as genuinely free and fair elections; freedom of assembly and of expression, including a free press and media; independent judiciary and the right to a fair trial; fight against corruption and democratic control over security and armed forces. The level of aid will be adapted according to progress made in meeting these benchmarks.
If we fail to deliver what our partners have requested, such as market access or mobility partnerships, we will also be held to account. This is why it is so important to have consensus with the Parliament and the Council in order to ensure that our proposals can be implemented.
Let me be clear on one point: we will offer our partners our experience and our assistance towards democratic reform, but we will not impose our model on them. This is where the principle of differentiation comes in. The Communication proposes applying a much higher level of differentiation, allowing each partner to develop its links with the EU as far as its own aspirations, needs and practices allow. We must listen to our partners and we adapt our offer where possible to their particular situation.
To achieve these goals, we are looking to engage in more intensive political steering of our relationships with our partners, to ensure a more effective setting of priorities. Cathy, my fellow Commissioners and I will meet frequently with our counterparts, to monitor closely and discuss with them the priorities and the implementation of the ENP in each partner country.
Parliamentary cooperation between the EP and the parliaments of our neighbours will also play a very important role in this regard.
The Communication proposes to adapt our instruments to make them more flexible and more focussed, and to allocate, in 2011-2013, EUR 1.2 billion in grant money to support the initiatives it outlined. This isin addition to funds already earmarked for our neighbourhood in 2011-2013, which amount to EUR 5.7 billion. This means that the EU would offer support to our partners for up to EUR 7 billion in grant money in 2011-2013.
And let's not forget that international financial institutions such as the EIB and EBRD are also responding to the increased needs in our neighbourhood.
I will do everything in my power to ensure the funds from the EU budget are attached to the top reform priorities that we agree with our partners, and that they are targeted for the greatest impact.
And what if a neighbour does not make any progress in building and consolidating democracy and respect for the rule of law? What if it violates human rights and democracy standards? In that case, the EU will not want to punish the people of that country. On the contrary, the EU will strengthen its support to civil society in that country. This is what we are doing in Belarus and in Libya.
The Communication proposes two new instruments to channel EU support to civil society: a Civil Society Facility and a European Endowment for Democracy.
The Civil Society Facility will help CSOs in our neighbourhood develop their advocacy capacity, their ability to monitor reform and their role in implementing and evaluating EU programmes.
The European Endowment for Democracy will help support political actors striving for democratic change, including political parties and non-registered NGOs or trade unions and other social partners that have not been able to benefit from EU support so far.
You will need to be closely involved in the development and implementation of this initiative. As always, I am very grateful to you also for your support in providing the resources that are necessary for the implementation of the ENP.
I look forward to your comments and questions.