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Five years of European Neighbourhood Policy: more trade, more aid, more people-to-people contacts

12-05-2010. The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) “has helped European neighbours to transform their countries” in a “win-win game” for all involved, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle has said, presenting the annual ENP reports at a press conference in Brussels.

“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,” he said. “Our partnership has significantly developed in areas like transport, energy, environment and climate change, research, health and education.”

The EU’s commitment has been backed up with an increase in the current Financial Framework by 32% and will reach over €2 billion annually in 2013. The EU has provided nearly €12 billion in 2007-2013 for the implementation of its ENP policy.

“Further strengthening the ENP is no less than an investment in the EU’s own stability and prosperity,” said Commissioner Füle. “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.”

With the policy and tools provided by the ENP, he said, “we can work as transformative soft power, spreading stability and prosperity beyond the enlargement area.”

Quoted in a European Commission press release, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton described the ENP as “a success story with many examples of concrete achievements on the ground… 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,” she added. “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.”

The Commission press release said bilateral Association Agreements had been concluded with most Southern ENP partners, while enhancement of relations with most advanced partners was ongoing, with Morocco achieving ‘advanced status’ since 2008. In the East, current Partnership and Cooperation Agreements are being replaced by far-reaching Association Agreements.

On governance, the press release cited elections in Ukraine and Moldova, Morocco and Lebanon, as showing some progress in democratic process. On 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”, it said, adding more also needed to be done in tackling corruption.

EU trade with the ENP region grew during 2004-2008, with EU exports rising by 63% and imports by 91%. 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.

On mobility, contacts between people on both sides of the border have increased, and travel to the EU is now easier from some countries, including Ukraine and Moldova. More than 2 million people from neighbouring countries were issued EU visas in 2008.

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 Commission’s annual ‘ENP Package’ consists of an overall assessment taking stock of the policy achievements since the ENP’s 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 country progress reports can be found as follows: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Moldova, Morocco, the occupied Palestinian territory, Tunisia, and Ukraine.

The European Commission has also released fact-sheets describing progress to date in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan,Lebanon, Moldova, Morocco, the occupied Palestinian territory, Tunisia and Ukraine, in implementing key reform priorities. (ENPI Info Centre)

European Commission press release

Press Conference by Commissioner Štefan Füle – video

European Neighbourhood Policy webpage

European Neighbourhood Policy – reference documents


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