WASHINGTON, May 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The European Union launched today a new and ambitious policy proposal for its relations with neighboring countries in Eastern Europe and the countries of the southern Mediterranean. The new policy, known as the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), is a concrete response to the Arab Spring and the aspirations of the countries to the east of the European Union. It increases funding by 1.24 billion euros over the next two years, on top of the 5.7 billion euros already allocated for the period.
The proposal, presented today by Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy hand European Commission Vice-President, and Stefan Fule, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, sets out the main priorities and directions of a revitalized ENP strategy which seeks to strengthen individual and regional relationships between the EU and countries in its neighborhood through a 'more funds for more reform' approach -- making more additional funds available, but with more mutual accountability.
"This is much more than a commitment to extra money," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. "It is a tangible expression of our commitment to reforms in the partner countries. And it shows we are serious in our desire to help those who aspire to political freedom and a better future. This is in our shared interest. We all share one future. If we promote democracy and development, we foster stability and avoid instability."
On top of the 5.7 billion euros already allocated for the period 2011-2013, additional funding of 1.24 billion euros has been transferred from other existing resources, and will now be made available in support of the ENP.
In addition, the European Council has agreed to High Representative Ashton's proposal to increase EIB (European Investment Bank) lending to the Southern Mediterranean by 1 billion euros over the same period. The EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) backed her request to extend their operations into the MENA region, starting with Egypt. Their expectation is that annual lending volumes could reach around 2.5 billion euros a year by 2013.
"With so much of our Neighborhood in a process of democratic change, this review is more important than ever. It is vital that we in the EU make a comprehensive offer to our neighbors and build lasting partnerships in our neighborhood," High Representative Ashton said.
"What we are launching today is a new approach. A partnership between peoples aimed at promoting and supporting the development of deep democracy and economic prosperity in our neighborhood. This is in all our interests. We will make funding available for countries in our neighborhood to support and match the speed of political and economic reform they wish to make. Our support is based on partnership, not on imposition. It is a relationship based on mutual accountability which cuts both ways where each side will hold the other to account against agreed goals and objectives.
"Against the backdrop of a tough economic climate, but mindful of the need for the EU to act, our proposal also needed to be financially innovative and this is why I took the initiative to secure additional finance from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)," she said.
Commissioner Fule emphasized: "A number of our neighbors, both in the East and in the South, are engaging in a transformation process out of which they want to emerge as more democratic and more prosperous societies. The EU needs to respond with determination and ambition, through a new approach to the ENP, drawing the right lessons from our experience so far and addressing the challenges of a fast-changing neighborhood.
"The new approach involves a much higher level of differentiation; this will ensure that each partner country develops its links with the EU as far as its own aspirations, needs and capacities allow. This is not a one size fits all approach. Increased EU support to its neighbors is conditional. It will depend on progress in building and consolidating democracy and respect for the rule of law. The more and the faster a country progresses in its internal reforms, the more support it will get from the EU.
"We are ready to support these more ambitious objectives with increased resources and better incentives. We also aim to make our delivery of assistance more flexible and more rapid to respond to a fast changing neighborhood. I hope that all EU institutions and Member States can rally behind our proposals and help in the delivery of this new approach, to the common benefits of the EU and its neighbors."
The renewed ENP builds on the achievements the EU's Neighborhood Policy since it was first launched in 2004, and responds to partner countries' quests for more freedom and a better life. It offers new types of support for more sections of society, and introduces more incentives to pursue reform.
Today's Communication is a culmination of an extensive review and consultation with governments and civil society organizations both within the EU and in the 16 ENP partner countries to Europe's South and East.
It further develops the 'Partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the southern Mediterranean' which was agreed in March 2011, in immediate response to the upheaval and democratic aspiration currently being seen in North Africa. It also builds upon the Eastern Partnership, launched in 2009.
For further information, please see:
A new and ambitious European Neighborhood Policy (MEMO):
Statement by President Barroso on the adoption of an extra 1.24 billion euros for European Neighborhood Policy on the eve of the G8 Summit - a concrete response to the Arab Spring and the aspirations of our Eastern Partners:
SOURCE Delegation of the European Union to the United States