Europe revises neighborhood policy to boost resilience, stability and security

On May 18, 2017, the European Commission and the High Representative published a report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The report shows that the new policy approach ensures stronger joint ownership and more flexibility by recognizing different aspirations and diversity of each partner. The revised ENP reinvigorated the relations between the European Union and its neighbors to the East and South, with a greater focus on stabilization, resilience and security.

The High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “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 Neighbourhood 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”.

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn commented: “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“.

This is the first report following the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in November 20151 which sets out a new framework for building more effective partnerships between the EU and its neighbours, and supporting stabilisation as a top priority. The report reflects the overarching political priorities for the EU’s external action agreed with by Council following publication of the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy in June 2016.

The ENP Review was based on a wide consultation process involving partners and the EU Member States, and drawing on their inputs. It introduced a new approach that encompasses greater respect for the diverse aspirations of the EU’s partners; more effective pursuit of areas of mutual interest; new working methods to support a greater sense of ownership by the partners and greater involvement and shared responsibility by the Member States; as well as greater flexibility in the way the EU conducts its policies and its development funds.

The present report reflects the commitments made in the ENP Review to keep all EU stakeholders informed of the progress of the ENP. It also takes stock of developments in the EU’s relations with its partners since the adoption of the revised policy, and demonstrates how the EU is delivering on the new approach.
Developments in the EU’s Neighbourhood and inside the EU have continued to confirm the importance of close and fruitful working relations between the EU and its neighbours. The EU supports the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all Partner Countries, which is also in line with the principles of the UN Charter. Terrorist attacks in the EU and in neighbouring countries demonstrate the need to keep strengthening cooperation both on security and on the political and socio-economic drivers of violent extremism.

Tackling irregular migration and responding to the flows of refugees remain important challenges for both the EU and its neighbours, and key areas on which to focus our work given the continued instability due to conflicts, especially in Libya and Syria. To the East, Neighbourhood countries continue to grapple with societal transformation amid pressure from an increasingly assertive Russian foreign policy.

This report emphasises how the EU and its partners in the East and the South are working to promote stabilisation and resilience focusing particularly on economic development, employability, youth employment, and upholding the EU’s commitment to promote democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights, and good governance with effective and accountable public administrations and participation of civil society.

2016 saw progress on re-energising the relations with the neighbouring countries through new forms of tailor-made partnerships. This has included work on new country-specific frameworks for bilateral cooperation in the form of Partnership Priorities and updated Association Agendas. The approach of joint ownership has made it possible to better reflect individual needs and aspirations of partner countries as well as EU interests and values.

Financial assistance is being used in a more flexible way, to support the new priorities of the ENP. Member States have been fully involved in the process of defining these priorities also through more coordination on financial assistance and joint programming. Closer involvement of civil society and other stakeholders has also been ensured.

The Global Strategy will guide the EU’s external action in the years to come, and the reviewed ENP is an important instrument to attain its objectives, particularly answering the need to enhance the resilience of states and societies to the East and to the South of the EU, in line with relevant Council Conclusions. The reviewed ENP is also coherent with the Rome Declaration promoting a stronger role of Europe on the global stage and is in line with the
Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its sustainable development goals.

See full report (PDF).

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