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European Commission

Štefan Füle

European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

In the EP about implementation of ENP (package 2013)

European Parliament plenary session, Strasbourg

Motion of a resolution on the ENP (package 2013)

22 October 2013

President, Honourable Members,

I welcome the resolution of the European Parliament on the European Neighbourhood Policy 'package' of 2013 and the fact that it reacts to all our individual country reports. I share the thrust of the resolution including the emphasis:

on the importance of implementation for the success of the policy;

on the overriding principles of democracy, rule of law and human rights; and

on the need to apply the principles of differentiation and 'more-for-more', taking into account the specificity of each of our partner, the progress made in their reform efforts and their different levels of ambition to engage with the European Union.

I note your wish to be fully associated in the implementation of the ENP, and be regularly informed about developments. I appreciate the cooperation and coordination we have on all areas of the ENP and I am personally committed to its continuation. Strengthening the Parliamentary dimensions of the ENP is a key priority and I encourage this House to strengthen relations with our partners' parliaments.

We are at an important and critical moment in the implementation of the ENP. Its success depends largely on the willingness and ability of each country to clearly define and assume the ownership of reforms. European Union policies can support but not replace this process. We also have to recognise that partners' ability to stick to their reform commitment can be compromised by external forces. Let me specifically underline the impact the conflict in Syria has on Lebanon or Jordan. In such and other situations, our partners need even stronger support from the European Union.

But in a spirit of mutual accountability, we have to acknowledge that the success of the ENP also depends on our own actions. In times of crisis, our policies may sometimes seem to be slow, or not focused enough on the short term needs. We need to reflect on how to address this, on how we can use all the instruments at the European Union's disposal to respond to the challenges in our neighbourhood. We – the European Union institutions and our Member States, have to stick to our side of the bargain. We have to deliver on

• political engagement;

• improved access to our market;

• better mobility for people; and

• on strong and consistent support for reforms.

Honourable Members,

As regards the Eastern Partnership, achieving a significant package of deliverables at Vilnius will create the right conditions to maintain the dynamism in the next phase. The major challenges ahead will be:

  • implementation of new Agreements making the process of political association and economic integration irreversible and unlocking the full potential of relationships with the European Union; and

  • shaping our relations with all 6 partners on the basis of our values and principles.

And let me be clear, these decisions on Association Agreements are sovereign decisions of those countries. Let me be also clear they're not about passing sovereignty to Brussels. On the contrary – they are about strengthening their sovereignty by empowering these countries and using the Association Agreement as a vehicle for introducing European values.

Many of our Southern Neighbours are at a crucial phase in their struggle for democracy. Conflicts and fragile security situations are threatening achievements already made and hindering reforms. But now is not the time to disengage. As recent events in the Mediterranean Sea have demonstrated, we have an interest to strengthen dialogue and cooperation. And we must continue with the implementation of our offer of more intense people-to-people contacts, easier mobility and gradual economic integration.

The focus should not be limited to supporting individual partners. Regional dialogue and cooperation in the Mediterranean region remains as important as ever. It is important for building trust and contributing to find a solution to the region's protracted conflicts; and it is important for building the concrete projects and the concrete solidarity among the people. This is why I am encouraged about the recent Ministerial conference on the role of women in the context of the Union for the Mediterranean, and about the other ministerial meetings that will soon take place notably on energy and transport. And I am also encouraged that the Maghreb Foreign Ministers have shown interest in strengthening their own cooperation and integration, building on our European experience.

Honourable Members,

In the Mediterranean as in our Eastern Neighbourhood, stronger multilateral cooperation among the partners should be part and parcel of the overall transformation and modernisation process promoted by the ENP. Together with genuine differentiation among our neighbours, it is key for building the area of peace and prosperity that will fulfil citizens' aspirations for a life in dignity.

Thank you for your attention.

Concluding remarks

President, Honourable Members,

Let me thank the authors, rapporteurs and coordinators for excellent job. This is the first time this house has attempted to reflect on our way of reporting on the ENP and I think they did it in a professional way and have shown the way for their successors next year.

Many of the appreciations I've heard in the debate I would share with the High Representative Catherine Ashton. I am not saying that very often but one thing needs to be clear: we do not have separate capacities and people in the EEAS and in the Commission for the ENP. We share the same people and this is the strength of the EU after Lisbon Treaty and we try to capitalise on it.

Now, let me make three points:

First: On the funding side, I welcome the European Parliament's efforts to finalise negotiations with the Council on the new European Neighbourhood Instrument. We need to complete negotiations as soon as possible. We are already late in putting the new instrument in place. Even if we have the 2014 budget approved, we cannot commit funds for new programmes in 2014 until the full legal and programming framework is formally adopted. This may put at risk the continuity of our support and our ability to react to changing circumstances.

The Commission supports European Parliament’s wish to have a greater involvement in strategic decisions on programming of financial assistance, allowing it to provide guidance on the programming of assistance under ENI at an earlier stage and before the programming documents are finalised. This will improve coherence and consistency.

Second: on the benefits of cooperating with the European Parliament. You have been at the launch of the ENP, you have always served as the mirror providing us with reality check of this policy. Through Euronest and Euromed you have provided added value. In my contacts with the partners I underline the need to find consensus between the government and the opposition, the consensus on the European issues, trying to keep them outside of the political fight. Because the more inclusivity there is, the more reforms can be pursued. I guess the same applies to this House: the more consensus on the ENP as such, on the region, on the countries, the more effective the ENP is. The more politics our partners feel, the more politics I see in the relationship, the less effective this policy is.

Third point: It is not about imposing our policy on the partners. From the very beginning the ENP reflected not only on the Lisbon treaty and the new opportunities provided by the creation of the EEAS. It also reflected the dramatic changes in the Southern neighbourhood. We have tried to bring our policies closer to people in the partner countries. The ENP is a policy which we tried to elaborate on together with our partners and implement it for their benefit, while we of course benefit as well. The ENP can be successful if it is based on the principle of respecting each other, if it is based on the principle of differentiation between the South and the East and among the countries there. This policy can be successful on the basis of our values, also if we show sensitivity and understanding for economic and social needs of the partners and deliver on it. It can be successful only if we continue to be interactive with our partners and respond to their ambitions - supporting those who are ready to be supported by embarking on more ambitious path of reforms. And it can be successful if we strengthen the partnership with people through involving the Civil Society. Only then the transformative power of this policy can bring change. There is a bigger competition in the neighbourhood, but I think the ENP has shown that the soft power of the EU has a lot to offer.

The ENP is a policy of continuous engagement. Sometimes results may disappoint, but there are compelling reasons for it to provide the framework for the European Union's relations with its neighbours for the years to come.

Thank you for your attention.

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