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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Joint press conference by High Representative/ Vice-President Federica MOGHERINI and Commissioner Johannes HAHN on European Neighbourhood Policy Review.

Brussels, 04 March 2015

High Representative/Vice–President Federica Mogherini:

We have just decided in the college to formally launch the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy that as you know is already 10 years old, and last review was done in 2011, in the process of the so-called Arab Spring.

Our region has changed a lot in these last years, for sure in the last 10 years but also from 2011 - both our region to the East and to the South, with dramatic developments, but also with encouraging steps that were registered even recently both to the East and to the South.

We need to review our policy, our way of working, our partnership with the countries of our region, first of all because we feel we need to move from an approach that has been very much based on the judgement on the evaluation of the progress in our relationship to a more political dialogue, to a more political partnership, to a more cooperation oriented approach between equal partners. In particular because as our region is in flames, both to the East and South, we have to use all the potential of our bilateral relations with partners in the region to have an effective impact on our region.

We have common challenges with our partners, be it security, be it the protection of basic rights and principles, be it migration (and this is dramatically evident also today with the news coming from the Mediterranean again), be it energy or be it the promotion of Human Rights and democracy, be it the economic development, trade. A full agenda of things on which it is useful to strengthen our capacity to work together with our partners in the region.

So we will work together in the next months, myself together with Commissioner Hahn, our offices in a perfect team work I have to say that I am personally very proud of. We have started to work very well together in the Commission and I hope this will bring fruitful results in the coming months. We will work together in the next months, first of all with our partners listening and working together on what has had worth over these years, what has to be improved or changed, starting from listening process. We will do this both with the partners in the East and in the South.

We will have a couple of meetings that will be important in this view. The Riga summit on the East, the Barcelona meeting in April to the South, to have open and frank discussions with our partners on what we need to change and in which way.

We will also discuss this internally. The EU Foreign Ministers will start the discussion at our informal ministerial in Riga  on Friday and Saturday this week. 

It will be a process, Commissioner Hahn will tell you more about this, where the main purpose is to have better and more effective instruments to work in our neighbourhood, in our region and we desperately need to find better instruments to be better effective.

Commissioner Johannes Hahn

It is in the EU's own interests to maintain close relations with its neighbours. From energy security to migration, from trade to terrorism: we need to work together on the big challenges we all face. 

What is the objective? We want to be a key partners for the countries on our doorstep, while defending their right to choose their own way forward. We prefer to work with democracies in open trading relationships, because we believe this is better for everyone. And, we want to have good working relationships on issues that affect us.

As High Representative has said, there has been a lot of changes in the neighbourhood in recent years. The ENP has not always been able to offer adequate responses to the changing aspirations of our partners. And therefore, the EU’s own interests have not been fully served either.

That is why President Juncker has asked me, in close co-operation with the High Representative/Vice-President to carry out a far-reaching review of this policy. Many Member States – and indeed our partners - have already signalled they also believe change is necessary.

In the consultation, we need to look at four key points:

First.  What can we do increase differentiation in the way we work with our partners? We need to do more to recognise that our partners are very diverse. Not just different East and South, but different within the East and within the South. Some want closer integration with us, and in these cases we need to reflect on what further steps are possible. Some want a different kind of relationship, and for these we need to consider how best to pursue the relationship, perhaps in new formats

Second. This brings me to ownership. The new ENP must reflect the views and experience of our partners. It must not be condescending, patronising or preaching. We must ensure that we develop a real partnership of equals on the basis of shared interests, while always promoting universal principles. The consultation will look at new ways of working, for example, potential changes to our annual reports.     

Third. My third point is therefore focus:   We need not cover every sector with every partner. For those that want, and who are able, we should pursue the Association Agreements and DCFTAs. But, for those who can't, or do not currently want to engage so deeply, let's narrow the focus to make our partnerships more effective.

Trade and mobility have been the traditional focus points: I want us to put a new emphasis on some that have not been fully used up to now: energy – both our energy security and that of our partners; and threats to security from organised crime to the frozen conflicts.

Fourth. Lastly, we need to be more flexible: this means being able to react to changing circumstances, and crises when they arise.

We are determined to consult as widely as possible, particularly in the partner countries and the consultation will last till end June. Then, we will come with a full proposal in the autumn.

We are looking for concrete ideas that will suit us and our partners, and that will deliver results the public can understand. Many like to ask what is the end destination of this policy: I am more interested to see what advances we can make in the next five years.


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