Neighbourhood policy

The European Union’s European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was born in 2002 from the wish to develop an area of prosperity and stability on the borders of the enlarged European Union. The policy is intended to strengthen political, security, economic and cultural cooperation between the European Union and its immediate or near neighbours.

Initially aimed at the European Union’s new neighbours in the East (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) and then extended to the Southern Mediterranean countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Jordan and, before it suspended its participation, Syria), the initiative began to be implemented from 2003 onwards. By means of bilateral agreements, action plans, a dedicated financial instrument (the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument) and a series of sector-specific programmes (on youth, energy, trade), the policy supports the democratic and economic development of the European Union’s neighbours and strengthens their ties to the European Union and to its member States, even at the level of citizens.

In the wake of the "Arab Springs" and the need for the European Union to support the political transitions taking place on its southern borders, and to promote sustainable economic development, a new and ambitious ENP was launched in 2011, based on a reassertion of its principles (respect for democratic values, good governance) and increased funding (see the Joint Communication by the High Representative of the Union and the European Commission published on 25 May 2011 and entitled "A New Response to a Changing Neighbourhood"). European assistance, whether technical or financial, now pays greater attention to the progress made by the region’s governments in implementing jointly agreed objectives.

The European Union has also launched two initiatives aimed at extending and reinforcing the impact of the Neighbourhood Policy and its elements of partnership both to the south and to the east, the better to allow for the specific challenges faced by its southern and eastern neighbours:

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) was founded in 2008 on the initiative of France, during the French Presidency of the European Union. In 2012, the UfM redirected its focus towards supporting concrete cooperation projects intended to promote regional integration and cohesion and directly benefit local populations, echoing the call of France’s President for a "Mediterranean of projects". The UfM is now made up of the 28 European Union member States and 15 States bordering the Mediterranean: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauretania, Monaco, Montenegro, the Palestinian Authority, Syria (participation now suspended), Tunisia and Turkey. Libya has observer status and is a candidate for membership. The UfM has a permanent secretariat in Barcelona (its Secretary General is Mr. F. Sijilmassi of Morocco). The Co-Presidency is shared between the North and South of the Mediterranean: the European Union succeeded France to the North Co-Presidency in March 2012, while Jordan succeeded Egypt to the South Co-Presidency in June 2012. To date, the UfM has awarded its label, or seal of approval, to some 15 projects in the fields of water, transport, energy, higher education and research, support for SMEs and for civil society. Four of these projects have already been launched.

The Eastern Partnership (EaP), launched in May 2009 at the Prague Summit, is an initiative aimed at creating "political cooperation and economic integration" between the European Union and its Eastern neighbours. This aim, reiterated at the Warsaw Summit (September 2011), is to be achieved by means of cooperation agreements with these countries, providing in particular for the creation of comprehensive and thorough free trade zones. Another objective is to increase the mobility of European Union and Eastern partner citizens in a safe, secure environment. New forums for political dialogue have been created: the EaP summit of heads of State and government, held every two years - the next is to be held in Vilnius on 28-29 November - and the interparliamentary assembly Euronest. A number of concrete projects have been launched (support for SME development, integrated border management, agricultural and rural development), thanks to support from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.

France attaches great importance to the European Neighbourhood Policy and to balanced developments in both the Northern and Southern sectors.

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Updated: 12.08.13