The ENP was reviewed in 2015 to respond to the new challenges of an evolving neighbourhood. Today’s report shows results following a new approach based on differentiation, joint ownership and flexibility.
The revised European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) reinvigorated the relations between the European Union and its neighbours to the East and South, with a greater focus on stabilisation, resilience and security. Today’s neighbourhood-wide Joint Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy demonstrates that the new policy approach ensures stronger joint ownership and more flexibility by recognising different aspirations and diversity of each partner. The report is a follow-up to the European Neighbourhood review which was adopted in November 2015.
“The European Union has been investing a lot in economic development, resilience, security, democracy and the rule of law in our Eastern and Southern neighbours. One year and a half after the review of the European Neighborhood Policy, we have managed to build – in cooperation and full partnership – a tailor made approach with each and every country, to ensure it addresses the real needs and interests, for the sake of all our citizens.” said Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, upon publication of the joint report.
”We consulted widely before updating the Neighbourhood Policy – and this report shows how we are really putting into action the results of that consultation: a stronger focus on mutual interests, greater differentiation to reflect the diversity of our partners, a greater sense of shared ownership of the policy and more flexibility in how it is implemented,” added Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.
Implementing the reviewed European Neighbourhood Policy
Long-lasting crises and the geopolitical relevance of the EU’s neighbourhood show the importance of having a solid policy framework in place to enhance political and economic relations with the EU’s neighbouring countries.
Today’s joint report by the European Commission and the High Representative on the implementation of the ENP review confirms the ENP’s central role in creating the conditions for the stabilisation of the EU’s neighbourhood, which the review identified as a top priority.
The review refocused the ENP to ensure a differentiated approach to partners, recognising the different aspirations of each country, joint ownership, based on both partners’ needs and EU interests, and more flexibility in the use of EU instruments. The new approach has been crucial in reenergising the EU’s relations with the ENP partner countries, including through the negotiation and adoption of new Partnership Priorities and the ongoing updating of Association Agendas, in each case sharpening the focus of relations for the next few years on areas of agreed mutual interest.
Within the new political framework, the EU is acting with more flexibility and sensitivity towards its partners, deploying its resources with more impact as regards the implementation of the key priorities. Flexibility in the use of EU funding (through the European Neighbourhood Instrument), has been increased through the use of Trust Funds to ensure a rapid delivery of financial assistance, through greater use of blending and of improved joint programming with Member States. Finally, through enhanced coordination with International Financial Institutions and the creation of a new flexibility cushion to allow rapid response to crisis situations and changing circumstances.
Progress in priority areas
The reviewed ENP has mobilised significant support to reforms in four priority areas: good governance, democracy, rule of law and human rights; economic development for stabilisation; security; migration and mobility.
With EU support, important steps have been taken by some partner countries to advance reforms on good governance, democracy, rule of law and human rights with extensive programmes on public administration reform and anti-corruption, on strengthening the judiciary, and on supporting human rights, as well as fostering a stronger civil society.
Boosting sustainable economic development is at the heart of the EU’s contribution to stabilising the neighbourhood and is crucial for developing partners’ resilience. Since the review, the EU has invested in structural reforms to improve competitiveness and the business environment, to boost trade, to support SMEs and to tailor education and skills to the needs of the real economy.
The ENP review significantly increased the policy’s focus on security issues, with a comprehensive approach to the security challenges in its neighbourhood. The EU has developed Security Sector Reform programmes both in the East and South, and taken forward important work on counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism, while strengthening efforts on disrupting organised crime and on enhanced cooperation in the area of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
The challenges of the refugee crisis and irregular migration remain high on the political agenda and have been a key aspect of the EU’s work with its neighbouring countries. The comprehensive approach put in place by the EU encompasses efforts to address the root causes of migration in order to reduce irregular migration, to promote legal migration and mobility and to effectively manage borders while safeguarding the right of EU citizens to free movement within the EU.
The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was reviewed in 2015 to respond to the new challenges of an evolving neighbourhood. The review – proposed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014 and welcomed by EU Member States – was subject to a wide public consultation prior to its publication in November 2015. The outcome of the review was a revised policy based on the principles of differentiation, flexibility and ownership under the overarching objective of stabilisation.
The Joint report adopted today is the first neighbourhood-wide report that is published by the EU as a standalone document, without a set of individual country reports. The aim of this new report style is to provide a broad overview on developments and trends in the neighbourhood. Country-specific reports are now adopted and published separately: they are timed to provide the basis for political exchanges in the run-up to meetings of the Association Council or similar high-level events held with respective partners.