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The ENP was developed from 2004 with the idea that promoting the values of democracy, rule of law and respect of human rights through partnerships with the European neighbouring countries will prevent the emergence of divided lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours. 

What is the European Neighbourhood Policy?

This ENP framework is proposed to the 16 of EU’s closest neighbours – Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine.

The ENP is chiefly a bilateral policy between the EU and each partner country. It is further enriched and complemented by regional and multilateral co-operation initiatives: the Eastern Partnership (launched in Prague in May 2009), the Union for the Mediterranean (the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, formerly known as the Barcelona Process, re-launched in Paris in July 2008), and the Black Sea Synergy (launched in Kiev in February 2008).

Within the ENP the EU offers our neighbours a privileged relationship, building upon a mutual commitment to common values (democracy and human rights, rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development). The ENP includes political association and deeper economic integration, increased mobility and more people-to-people contacts. The level of ambition of the relationship depends on the extent to which these values are shared.

The ENP remains distinct from the process of enlargement although it does not prejudge, for European neighbours, how their relationship with the EU may develop in future, in accordance with Treaty provisions.

In 2010-2011, the EU reviewed the ENP and put a strong focus on the promotion of deep and sustainable democracy, accompanied by inclusive economic development. Deep and sustainable democracy includes in particular free and fair elections, freedom of expression, of assembly and of association, judicial independence, fight against corruption and democratic control over the armed forces. The EU also stressed the role of civil society bringing about deep and sustainable democracy. The EU unveiled “more for more” principle, under which the EU will develop stronger partnerships with those neighbours that make more progress towards democratic reform.

How does it work?

Central to the ENP are the bilateral Action Plans between the EU and each ENP partner (12 of them were agreed). These set out an agenda of political and economic reforms with short and medium-term priorities of 3 to 5 years. ENP Action Plans reflect each partner’s needs and capacities, as well as their and the EU’s interests. Even the names of the Action Plans vary to reflect each partner’s particular situation and some are called ‘Association Agendas’. The ENP is not yet fully ‘activated’ for Algeria, Belarus, Libya and Syria since those have not yet agreed Action Plans. An Action Plan with Algeria is currently under negotiation.

Under the ENP Action Plans the EU works together with its partners to develop democratic, socially equitable and inclusive societies, and offers its neighbours economic integration, improved circulation of people across borders, financial assistance and technical cooperation toward approximation with EU standards. The European Commission provides financial support in grant form to partners; the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development complement this support through loans. The civil society plays an important role in contributing to democracy and good governance building in partner countries. The EU supports organisations via the Civil Society Facility.

The ENP builds upon the legal agreements in place between the EU and the partner in question: Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCA) or Association Agreements (AA). Implementation of the ENP is jointly promoted and monitored through the Committees and sub-Committees established in the frame of these agreements. The European External Action Service and the European Commission publish each year the ENP Progress Reports. The assessments contained in the Progress Reports form the basis for EU policy towards each ENP partner under the “more for more” principle.

The 2013 ENP package

The 2013 ENP package consists in a Communication taking stock of general trends in the EU neighbourhood, in 12 Progress Reports (one for each neighbour that has concluded an ENP Action Plan) and two regional reports, one for the South and one for the East. It also includes a statistical annex with quantitative indicators on progress towards deep and sustainable democracy and inclusive economic development, as well as on the development of economic relations and people-to-people contacts between the EU and its partners.

Did you know?

In 2011, total trade between the EU and its ENP partners was worth € 230 billion.

In 2007-2013, the EU provided partners with over € 12 billion in grant money for the implementation of the ENP.

The EU issued 3.2 million Schengen visas to ENP partners in 2012.

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