Through its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the EU works with its southern and eastern neighbours to achieve the closest possible political association and the greatest possible degree of economic integration.
Central to the ENP are the bilateral Action Plans or Association Agendas 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/Association Agendas reflect each partner's needs and capacities, as well as their and the EU’s interests. The ENP is not yet ‘activated’ for Algeria, Belarus, Libya and Syria. An Action Plan with Algeria is currently under negotiation.
Under the ENP, 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.
Cooperation in specific sectors
Better cooperation in specific sectors means improving daily living conditions of citizens in a tangible way:
- Through sector cooperation, the ENP promotes the respect for the basic principles of dignity and equality, human rights, and social and economic justice. These principles are embodied in democratic legal systems and the rule of law, and guaranteed by independent courts. Efficient and accessible courts protect citizens from arbitrariness, ensure respect for their fundamental rights and guarantee effective justice for all. Cooperation in reforming the judicial sector and in the fight against corruption forms one of the main priority areas of the ENP in partner countries.
- The ENP links partner countries with the EU's internal market and its social and economic model. For partners, this means adopting basic rules on equal opportunities, economic participation and fair competition. It means ensuring well-governed institutions and access to social services for all citizens. It implies the promotion of environmental and consumer protection standards, food safety, healthy and safe working conditions. On this basis, the ENP creates the right conditions for economic growth and job creation.
- The ENP connects the EU with its neighbours, promoting trade, the building of networks in energy and transport, or fostering tourism. It builds bridges between people, facilitates mobility and fosters inter-cultural understanding. It pays particular attention to educational and youth exchanges, with the aim of fostering human capital development and well-educated, strong and responsible societies.
Sector policy dialogue and cooperation are a basic element of the ENP and a concrete translation of the EU's foreign policy in the neighbourhood. By bringing the neighbours closer to its policies and standards, the EU promotes its core values of just, well-governed societies, promoting social development and economic opportunities to all their citizens.
Support and agreements
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 and recommendations contained in the Progress Reports form the basis for EU policy towards each ENP partner under the "more for more" principle.
The 'more for more' principle applies to all incentives proposed by the EU: policy developments as well as to financial assistance (excluded humanitarian assistance, refugee & external borders funds and support to civil society). Partners determinedly embarking on political reforms should be offered, in addition to the incentives available to other partners, those that relate to the most ambitious elements of:
- Market access: economic integration and development (DCFTAs),
- Mobility of people (mobility partnerships,
- A greater share of the EU financial support
In that context, the Commission has decided to set up specific programmes both for the Eastern (EAPIC) and Southern (SPRING) neighbours that will allocate extra financial support only to those neighbours taking clear and concrete steps on political reforms. In addition, a new Civil Society Facility was created in September 2011 to strengthen the capacity of civil society to promote and monitor reforms, and increase public accountability.