The political, economic, social and environmental gaps between the Union and its neighbours to the East-Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and the Southern Caucasus, and to the South, in the Mediterranean region, are worryingly large and in certain cases increasing. The EU wants to prevent the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours.
The European Neighbourhood Policy represents a new approach in the EU’s relations with its neighbours. This “partnership for reform” is off ered by the EU to 16 partner countries to the South and to the East of the EU. It goes beyond classical co-operation: it consists of intensifi ed political dialogue and deeper economic relations, based on shared values and common interest in tackling common problems. The ENP is not about membership of the EU – if an accession perspective were to be off ered at some point in the future to any of the countries covered by the ENP, this would be a separate process.
The necessary legal and institutional framework for intensifi ed cooperation with ENP partners are Partnership and Cooperation Agreements or Association Agreements. The tools, however, to deliver concrete results are jointly agreed, tailor-made ENP Action Plans2 with short and medium term priorities (3–5 years). They cover a wide range of issues: political dialogue and macro-economic reforms, trade, co-operation in Justice, Liberty and Security, various sector-policies (transport, energy, environment and climate change, research, information society, social policy and employment) as well as a deep human dimension – people to people contacts, education, health, civil society. The ENP Action Plans also provide a means of technical and financial support in the partner’s own reform eff orts and modernisation.
The European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), as a “policy driven” fi nancial instrument, will support in the period 2007–2013 the implementation of the ENP Action Plans, and, in the case of Russian Federation, which is not covered by the ENP3, the road-maps for the four common spaces. In that context, it goes further than promoting sustainable development and fi ghting poverty to encompass, for example, considerable support for measures leading to progressive participation in the EU’s internal market.
Legislative and regulatory convergence and institution building is supported through mechanisms such as the exchange of experience, long term twinning arrangements with Member States or participation in Community programmes and agencies. The ENPI replaces MEDA and TACIS and other existing geographical and thematic instruments.
The Commission has set up a web-site explaining the ENP and its processes and containing key ENP documents such as the Strategy Papers, the Action Plans and Progress Reports.
ENP partner countries are expected to benefi t considerably from full implementation of the ENP Action Plans, including from enhanced convergence with the EU approaches. For benefi ts resulting from enhanced environment protection, including convergence, please refer to Chapter 3.