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The European Neighbourhood Policy

Written by Philippe Perchoc,

Since 2004, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has provided a framework for relations between the EU and its 16 geographically closest eastern and southern neighbours, affording enhanced cooperation and access to the EU market under bilateral action plans, which are intended to lead eventually to association agreements.

Birth, objectives and scope

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was designed in the early 2000s, to provide a consistent institutional framework with instruments for the EU to negotiate its relationship with partner countries in the eastern neighbourhood (Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova in 2004, and then Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan after 2005) and in the southern neighbourhood (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Tunisia) after the 2004 enlargement.

The European Neighbourhood

The European Neighbourhood

The ENP provides a common series of principles and methods to be used with each of the partners when negotiating individual action plans. This cooperation is funded by the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), which amounts to €15 billion for the 2014-2020 period. In 2015, the EU devoted €2.336 billion to the ENI (26.82 % of the ‘Global EU’ budget).

Regional dimensions

The EU has taken multilateral, and more politically oriented, initiatives to complement the ENP – in 2008 with the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and subsequently with the Eastern Partnership. The two initiatives have created a more complex backdrop for the ENP, which was intended as – and on paper remains – a uniform policy, despite the high profile of the regional initiatives. These two initiatives have been designed as a way to address the specific needs of these two very different geopolitical regions and foster ownership of the policies by the partner countries in a multilateral forum. They encourage cooperation and projects through the UfM secretariat in Barcelona, and the different platforms of cooperation and flagship initiatives under the Eastern Partnership.

Reform of the ENP

After the Arab Spring revolutions, the European Commission under President Jean-Claude Juncker decided to launch a major reform of the ENP. Under the reform adopted in 2015, the European institutions committed themselves to the promotion of universal values but also to more differentiation between partners, and greater mutual ownership over the ENP by the EU and its partners. Differentiation will be taken more into account when it comes to the definition of priorities in trade, security, connectivity, governance, migration and mobility. In this context, reinforcing the links between civil society in the EU and partners, as well as among partner countries is a priority.

The role of civil society in the ENP

European Neighbourhood Instrument, 2014 (commitments, in € million)

European Neighbourhood Instrument, 2014 (commitments, in € million)

Civil society is involved in the ENP either through participation in projects financed in the partner countries though the European Neighbourhood Instrument or the UfM secretariat, or through participation in the Eastern Partnership thematic platforms on Democracy, good governance and stability; Economic integration and convergence with EU policies; and Energy security; or through contacts between individuals. These platforms involve the European Commission, the European External Action Service, and the partner countries, as well as the European Parliament, and partner international organisations like the Council of Europe, European Investment Bank and European Bank for Development and Reconstruction. The EaP Civil Society Forum (EaPCSF) is composed of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from the EaP countries. More than 700 NGOs have participated in the activities of the EaPCSF since its launch in 2009, and they elect a steering committee which takes part in the work of the six thematic platforms of the Eastern Partnership.

Download this at a glance note on ‘The European Neighbourhood Policy‘ in PDF.


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