Monday, May 17, 2010
Five years of European Neighbourhood Policy: more trade, more aid, more people-to-people contacts
The annual European Neighbourhood Policy reports once again demonstrate the clear benefits that the European Union brings to its neighbours. For five years, the European Union has been delivering more trade, more aid, more people-to-people contacts and far deeper co-operation between the EU and its neighbours on the whole range of their economic, political and sectoral reforms. Our partnership has significantly developed in areas like transport, energy, environment and climate change, research, health and education. This has been backed up with an increase in the current Financial Framework by 32% and will reach over EUR 2 billion annually in 2013.
"The European Neighbourhood Policy is a success story with many examples of concrete achievements on the ground,” commented Catherine Ashton, Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. "But there is a lot more we can and should do to make our part of the world more secure, more stable and more prosperous. In a globalised world, as European and Mediterranean countries, we need to help each other face the economic crisis. We need to work together to confront the new threats and challenges of our time, such as international terrorism, human trafficking and cross-border organised crime. We need to co-operate to solve the disputes and conflicts that still hold parts of our region back, and deny many ordinary people the benefits of globalisation. We want our neighbours to join our efforts to bring peace and security to other parts of the world who are less fortunate than we are. And as a Union built on shared values, we want our neighbours to benefit from the stability and prosperity that come with open and democratic society and the rule of law. This ambitious agenda is a key priority for me as we press ahead with the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty and the establishment of the External Action Service. Our friends in our European and Mediterranean neighbourhood will be among the first to benefit from a more active, more coherent and more effective European foreign policy."
Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, added: “Further strengthening the ENP is no less than an investment in the EU’s own stability and prosperity — and this must be reflected in our offer to our partners. The ENP is a win-win game: the higher our partners’ reform ambitions, the stronger our response. Economic reforms have progressed remarkably across our neighbourhood, both East and South. What is essential for the future is to go up a gear on democratic and political reforms, where progress has been real but generally slower.”
Achievements of the European Neighbourhood Policy 2004-2009
Bilateral Association Agreements were concluded by 2004 with most Southern ENP partners, while enhancement of the relations with most advanced partners is currently ongoing (for example, the advanced status - statut avancé – has been implemented with Morocco since 2008). In the East, in line with objectives of the Eastern Partnership, current Partnership and Cooperation Agreements are being replaced by far-reaching Association Agreements.
The ENP aims also at improving governance. The recent presidential elections in Ukraine, the second round of parliamentary elections in Moldova, as well as improvements in quality of elections in Morocco or Lebanon show some progress in democratic process. On freedom of association, death penalty, media freedom, minority rights and other human rights and fundamental freedoms, there have been improvements in several ENP countries but progress has generally not matched the ambitions expressed jointly in the ENP and in the Action Plans. Much remains to be done too in terms of judicial and public administration reforms and effectively tackling corruption.
Regarding mobility more than 2 million EU Schengen visas were issued in our neighbourhood in 2008. Visa facilitation and readmission agreements are in place with Ukraine and Moldova and negotiations have been concluded with Georgia. Mobility Partnerships to promote legal migration have been agreed with Moldova and Georgia. Nevertheless more needs to be done to use the full potential of the ENP, including road-maps to a visa-free regime for short stays with Ukraine and Moldova.
EU’s trade with the ENP region grew during 2004-2008, with EU’s exports rising by 63% and imports by 91% (2009 brought some slowdown, due to the global economic and financial crisis). The EU is ready to negotiate Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas with all its neighbours as soon as they are ready and prepared for them. Other steps towards deeper economic integration have also been taken, including negotiation of a number of sectoral agreements from agricultural and fishery products to common aviation area.
Energy cooperation was strengthened with Memoranda of Understanding or Declarations with Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. In 2009 Ukraine and Moldova were admitted, subject to conditions, to accede the Energy Community Treaty,and Georgia became an observer.
The EU has provided nearly EUR 12 billion in 2007-2013 for the implementation of its ENP policy. In addition, the EU’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility, supported by EU budget and those of Member States, provides grant support to leverage loans (over EUR 4,7 billion in 2007-2009) for concrete investments in transport, environment, energy, private and social sectors.
The European Neighbourhood Policy aims at increasing common stability, prosperity and security. On the basis of a joint Action Plan, the EU supports partner countries in implementing their reforms to improve their standards of democracy and human rights, to increase their access to the EU's single market, to improve the environment and to step up their co-operation with the EU on issues like climate change, energy, transport or migration.
Today, the Commission has published its annual “ENP Package”, consisting of: a Communication taking stock of the policy achievements since its launch in 2004, 12 reports on progress achieved in 2009 by the 12 countries who have agreed ENP Action Plans with the EU, as well as a sectoral progress report.
The documents available include:
The Communication “Taking stock of the European Neighbourhood Policy” (Brussels 12 May 2010),
Individual country reports for 2009 for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Republic of Moldova, the occupied Palestinian territory, Tunisia and Ukraine
Sectoral report: http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/documents_en.htm
For more on the ENP: http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/index_en.htm