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European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
Opening remarks at Senior Officials' Meeting with ENP Southern partners
European Neighbourhood Policy Senior Officials' Meeting with Southern partners
Brussels, 26 June 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad to welcome you again and continue our exchanges that we have started a few years ago. As I have said on previous occasions, our discussion today will be an opportunity to have an open and interactive discussion on our Neighbourhood Policy, to take stock of the policy, of how you perceive its benefits, its shortcomings, and how it can remain strong and relevant for all of us.
The starting point of our discussion should be clear: we value bilateral relations with each of your countries. The ENP is chiefly a bilateral policy, and differentiation of our bilateral relations is an increasingly important aspect of our policy. There is no question of a one size fits all policy. Of course, since the review in 2011, the ENP's objectives have remained the same. Promoting modernisation, stability, inclusive economic development and universal values have been, and will remain, at the heart of the policy. While new challenges have arisen, this overall framework remains valid.
That said, as we have hinted in our Communication published last March, the policy has faced challenges. We are keen to have a constant feedback from you to ensure that it remains your policy and that we are tackling the true and relevant challenges.
There are three topics that we have identified for today's discussion:
First, The ENP and the flexibility of its policy instruments. In the 21st century, history happens faster. The speed of events in our respective regions can sometimes be breath-taking. But like oil tankers, policies and the machineries of administrations take a while to adapt to a new course. Yet quick adaptation to new events and new realities is a legitimate expectation of our respective stakeholders.
Therefore, the question is how can we further adapt the ENP's instruments, to make them more reactive and targeted to needs arising quickly and forcefully? What emerging needs do you seeing your respective countries that we should take into account more systematically?
Second, The ENP's perceived lack of a political dimension. The ENP has been perceived by many as too technical and bureaucratic, and too much focused on soft security issues.
It is said that the policy is not able to face the increasingly strong security challenges in the ENP region. Indeed, although the situation varies from one country to the other, we perceive a high risk of existing crises and conflicts either protracting or new ones breaking out. Thus, security remains a major concern for the EU and its partners.
It is quite likely that the ENP can do more to provide stabilisation in conflict and post-conflict situations, using all available EU policies, and foreign policy and community instruments, from development to CSDP, in a coordinated comprehensive approach.
Do you also perceive the need to enhance the policy's political footprint? If so, in what areas would you see this happening? Do you think that our already existing partnerships could benefit from mutually agreed elements of security-related policies, such as crisis prevention and management mechanisms?
Third, And building on the two previous points, I would like to hear how the ENP is perceived by you, partner countries: while common ownership is a major element of the policy, some have argued that this dimension would need further development.
How do you see the ENP's inclusiveness? Do you think that your country's priorities are fully and adequately spelt out in jointly set objectives and targets under the ENP? Do you see opportunities for more active engagement from your side on the
policy? Today is an opportunity to discuss these ideas further, in an open setting.
Indeed, our policy is not rigid. It is meant to adapt to an evolving context. We are always ready to be more creative in order to fulfil the aspirations of our partnership.
Let me finish by stressing that we also intend to listen and consult other stakeholders, from think thanks and academics to representatives of civil society. Indeed, the involvement of all stakeholders is crucial to the success of our partnership. Our ambition here is to have a genuine and real dialogue between the EU, Civil Society and your governments.
I am looking forward to your contributions which I am sure will be very useful and will help my successor in preparing the 2015 ENP communication.
Thank you for your attention.