A new European Neighbourhood Policy

EU Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Commission Vice-President and Štefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, today launched a new and ambitious European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) – confirming the EU’s determined and reinforced engagement with its neighbours.

Today’s proposal by the European External Action Service and European Commission to Member States and the European Parliament, sets out the main priorities and directions of a revitalised ENP strategy which seeks to strengthen individual and regional relationships between the EU and countries in its neighbourhood through a ‘more funds for more reform’ approach — making more additional funds available, but with more mutual accountability.

On top of the €5.7 billion already allocated for the period 2011-2013, additional funding of €1.24 billion has been transferred from other existing resources, and will now be made available in support of the ENP.

In addition, the European Council has agreed to the HRVP’s proposal to increase EIB (European Investment Bank) lending to the Southern Mediterranean by 1 billion euros over the same period. The EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) backed her request to extend their operations into the MENA region, starting with Egypt. Their expectation is that annual lending volumes could reach around 2.5 billion euros a year by 2013.

“With so much of our Neighbourhood in a process of democratic change, this review is more important than ever. It is vital that we in the EU make a comprehensive offer to our neighbours and build lasting partnerships in our neighbourhood,” Catherine Ashton said.

“What we are launching today is a new approach. A partnership between peoples aimed at promoting and supporting the development of deep democracy and economic prosperity in our neighbourhood. This is in all our interests.  We will make funding available for countries in our neighbourhood to support and match the speed of political and economic reform they wish to make.  Our support is based on partnership, not on imposition. It is a relationship based on mutual accountability which cuts both ways where each side will hold the other to account against agreed goals and objectives.

 “Against the backdrop of a tough economic climate, but mindful of the need for the EU  to act,  our proposal also needed to be financially innovative and this is why I took the initiative to secure additional finance from  the  European Investment Bank (EIB)  and  the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD),” she said.

Štefan Füle emphasized: “A number of our neighbours, both in the East and in the South, are engaging in a transformation process out of which they want to emerge as more democratic and more prosperous societies. The EU needs to respond with determination and ambition, through a new approach to the ENP, drawing the right lessons from our experience so far and addressing the challenges of a fast-changing neighbourhood

The new approach involves a much higher level of differentiation; this will ensure that each partner country develops its links with the EU as far as its own aspirations, needs and capacities allow. This is not a one size fits all approach. Increased EU support to its neighbours is conditional. It will depend on progress in building and consolidating democracy and respect for the rule of law. The more and the faster a country progresses in its internal reforms, the more support it will get from the EU.

We are ready to support these more ambitious objectives with increased resources and better incentives. We also aim to make our delivery of assistance more flexible and more rapid to respond to a fast changing neighbourhood. I hope that all EU institutions and Member States can rally behind our proposals and help in the delivery of this new approach, to the common benefits of the EU and its neighbours”

The renewed ENP builds on the achievements the EU’s Neighbourhood Policy since it was first launched in 2004, and responds to partner countries’ quests for more freedom and a better life.  It offers new types of support for more sections of society, and introduces more incentives to pursue reform.

Today’s Communication is a culmination of an extensive review and consultation with governments and civil society organizations both within the EU and in the 16 ENP partner countries to Europe’s South and East.

It further develops the ‘Partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the southern Mediterranean’ which was agreed in March 2011, in immediate response to the upheaval and democratic aspiration currently being seen in North Africa.  It also builds upon the Eastern Partnership, launched in 2009.

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