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European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy
Exchange of views on European Neighbourhood Policy Review
European Parliament AFET Committee
Brussels, 26 January 2011
Mr. Chairman, Honourable Members,
It is a pleasure to be here today for a second exchange of views on the ENP Review. When we last met on this topic, on the 26th October, I already shared some thoughts with you on the issues emerging from the review.
Before I listen to your views, allow me to recall briefly what we see as the main questions arising from the review so far.
As you will remember, we have posed three questions to our partners, our Member States and other interested stakeholders:
-first, the overall long-term vision for the ENP
-second, a set of more specific objectives in various areas for the medium term, and
-third, the instruments and resources we need to achieve our objectives.
Let me elaborate a bit more.
Regarding the long term, the review process has confirmed a common vision of our neighbourhood as a space where political co-operation is as close as possible and economic integration is as deep as possible. As may be inevitable, our partners emphasize the need for stronger gains while Member States focus more on reform commitments.
There is also an agreement that shared values, including democracy, human rights and rule of law, must have a central place in this policy. Whether we look east or south, there is ample evidence that we can (and indeed should) do more to support the strong aspirations of our partners and their peoples.
One frequent suggestion is that the long-term model for the ENP should be the European Economic Area. This is a very ambitious structure that has been set up for partners who were economically much more advanced. It would require partners to reform deeply and accept some limitations to their decision-making. Would this be politically and economically feasible, as well as sustainable, for our neighbours?
Another frequently raised issue is how our partners’ long-term economic strategies can be best connected with ours. This is something on which your views would also be very useful.
Last, whenever one speaks about more ambitious offers, we come inevitably to the issue of differentiation. Can we be more rigorous in the way we apply differentiation, in the way we offer more for more? How would you see this being done in practice?
Turning to specific medium-term objectives for the ENP, I would very much welcome your input on four questions in particular: governance, protracted conflicts, economic integration, mobility.
On governance, how can we strengthen Human Rights dialogues so as to promote compliance with Council of Europe and UN standards? How can we strengthen the judiciary so it can fight corruption more effectively? How can we foster civil society?
On conflict situations, we need to respond to our partners’ demand that the EU upgrade its action. How can we use the new tools of the Lisbon Treaty towards this end?
On economic integration, the gradual creation of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade areas is the perspective for both our Eastern and our Southern neighbours. How do we ensure this tool is best adapted to the needs of the EU and of each ENP country?
On mobility, what would be the parameters of a broader win-win approach to mobility and security that would address our partners’ needs and demands? What would be the necessary pre-conditions for progress on visa facilitation and freedom, if only for our most advanced partners? Is there space for more pro-active thinking on labour mobility?
Our third and final topic, adequate instruments and resources, is indispensable to turn our goals into reality. This is a sensitive issue for many EU Member States, but one that cannot be avoided. We need adequate funding in the next financial perspectives to match the ambition of our policy. For this we will definitely need your support and, there again, your ideas are very welcome, not only on the levels of funding but also on how we can improve the delivery of our assistance.
Mr. Chairman, Honourable Members,
Before concluding, I should perhaps say a few words on the Ministerial conference that we were planning to convene next week. We know from experience that bringing together all Foreign Ministers of the region is no easy task. Almost all our Southern partners informed us last week that they would not make it because they had to attend a Ministerial conference in Qatar on East-Jerusalem. We therefore considered that the conditions were not ripe to make this event a success and we decided to cancel it. This does not prevent our dense exchange of views from continuing, ahead of publishing our Communication on 20 April.
I guess now is the time for me to stop talking and listen to you. I know you have appointed two rapporteurs and I am aware that they have already started their work. I am eager to exchange on their preliminary findings today —and ready to pay the greatest attention to your future resolutions.
Together with the other inputs we have received, I hope today’s debate will provide us with sufficient food for thought and political backing to put forward ambitious proposals in our Communication.