The European Neighbourhood Policy – 1 year on

AZERBAIJAN - Return and Resettlement Neighbourhood Cooperation - pupils at the Xari Bulbul children's committee in Baku, 13 March 2012 © ENPI Info centreAZERBAIJAN - Return and Resettlement Neighbourhood Cooperation - pupils at the Xari Bulbul children's committee in Baku, 13 March 2012 © ENPI Info centre

In May 2011, the European Union (EU) completed a major review of its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which coincided with dramatic changes taking place in the wake of the Arab Spring. The new approach was aimed at rewarding democratic reform and economic transformation on a ‘more-for-more’ basis with greater and broader EU financial support for the more committed reformers of the 16 partner countries* in both the Southern and Eastern neighbourhood.

One year on, the so-called ‘2012 ENP package’ looks at the progress made in implementing the new approach and proposes a roadmap to provide partner countries with renewed impetus to the process.

In the first year of this new policy, a number of areas showed the EU’s determined response to fast changing situation in its neighbourhood: the allocation of an additional €1 billion through its SPRING (Southern) and EaPIC (Eastern) assistance programmes, increased financial capacity through the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - notably for those embarked on political reforms – and civil societies given increased support to develop their action.

Substantial progress on political association and economic integration has taken place. Negotiations on Association Agreements have been launched with the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. For Moldova and Georgia, ‘Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas’ negotiations have been initiated as a tool to develop economic ties.

Significant progress was also made in the area of mobility with steps taken towards visa liberalisation in the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia. The launch of dialogues on migration, mobility and security with Morocco and Tunisia are opening the way to mobility partnerships.

At the same time, the EU was also quick to react to gross violations of human rights by curtailing relations with those regimes, imposing wide ranging sanctions and channelling support to people’s needs on the ground.

The ‘Roadmap to the autumn 2013 Eastern Partnership Summit’ offers for the first time a full range of detailed activities under the Eastern Partnership, reconfirming the EU and partner countries’ mutual accountability and shared commitment to building deep and sustainable democracies, supporting inclusive economies and strengthening the respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. With such monitoring tools, tangible progress in reform efforts will be rewarded and encouraged.

*The European Neighbourhood includes Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt,  Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, the Republic of Moldova, Morocco, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine