European Neighbourhood Policy

Flags of different nations hanging in the building of the World Bank. Copyright: photothek.netParallel to the last major enlargement in May 2004, the European Union began to step up relations with its neighbours under the auspices of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). As early as March 2003 the Commission had put forward a neighbourhood concept, which was followed in 2004 by a detailed strategy paper. The ENP applies to all those states sharing a common border with the European Union that will in all probability have no real prospects of acceding to the EU in future, but whom the EU would like to offer the opportunity of greater economic and political cooperation. The aim of the Neighbourhood Policy is to share the advantages of EU enlargement with neighbouring countries, and thus avoid new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours.

The ENP thus goes beyond mere development cooperation to pursue a comprehensive strategy for the security and prosperity of Europe's citizens. Under this policy the EU makes a commitment to shared values such as democracy, the rule of law, human rights and good governance a basic precondition for its cooperation and support.

The key instruments of the ENPI are the bilateral Action Plans that run over several years. These contain concrete proposals for reforms that are tailored to the respective partner country and cover a wide spectrum of issues. To increase the incentive for reforms, further support such as involvement in EU programmes or gradual integration into the single European market is tied to concrete progress in implementation of the Action Plans. Positive implementation results as well as any necessary adjustments to the Action Plans are published by the EU Commission in regular reports.

The European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI)

Since 2007 the European Neighbourhood Policy has been financed through the new European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). The ENPI replaces previous programmes such as the MEDA programme and TACIS (Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States). The new instrument thus finances cooperation with a total of 16 partner countries. In addition to the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean partner countries these include Belarus, the Republic of Moldova and the Ukraine as well as the Caucasian states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The ENPI also supports the strategic partnership between the EU and Russia, which is not covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy.

An innovative aspect of this instrument is its inclusion of cross-border cooperation. Regions or member countries that share borders with ENP participants can receive special support for joint projects. This makes the cooperation both more effective and more targeted. Focal areas include the promotion of sustainable development, and neighbouring country convergence with EU policies and standards.

The financial volume of the ENPI for the period 2007 – 2013 is 11.2 billion euros. Another 800 million euros will be channelled to the EU's southern and eastern neighbours through other thematic programmes, such as the new European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. This represents a 32 per cent increase in funds compared to the period 2000 – 2006. Of this total some 1.2 billion euros will go to the new Cross-Border Cooperation Programme, which is intended to improve cooperation between local and regional actors at the EU's external borders.

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