The State of Play of Bilateral Engagement with EU Neighbourhood Policy Partners!


What progress has been registered in the area of good governance, democracy, rule of law and human rights?

The ENP was reviewed in 2015 to respond to the new challenges of an evolving neighbourhood. Today’s report shows results following a new approach based on differentiation, joint ownership and flexibility.

The revised European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) reinvigorated the relations between the European Union and its neighbours to the East and South, with a greater focus on stabilisation, resilience and security.

A tailor made approach with each and every country, to ensure it addresses the real needs and interests, for the sake of all our citizens.

The reviewed ENP has mobilised significant support to reforms in four priority areas: good governance, democracy, rule of law and human rights; economic development for stabilisation; security; migration and mobility.

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Revised European Neighbourhood Policy: supporting stabilisation, resilience, security

The ENP was reviewed in 2015 to respond to the new challenges of an evolving neighbourhood. Today’s report shows results following a new approach based on differentiation, joint ownership and flexibility. [Full Report]

The revised European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) reinvigorated the relations between the European Union and its neighbours to the East and South, with a greater focus on stabilisation, resilience and security. Today’s neighbourhood-wide Joint Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy demonstrates that the new policy approach ensures stronger joint ownership and more flexibility by recognising different aspirations and diversity of each partner. The report is a follow-up to the European Neighbourhood review which was adopted in November 2015.

“The European Union has been investing a lot in economic development, resilience, security, democracy and the rule of law in our Eastern and Southern neighbours. One year and a half after the review of the European Neighborhood Policy, we have managed to build – in cooperation and full partnership – a tailor made approach with each and every country, to ensure it addresses the real needs and interests, for the sake of all our citizens.” said Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, upon publication of the joint report.

”We consulted widely before updating the Neighbourhood Policy – and this report shows how we are really putting into action the results of that consultation: a stronger focus on mutual interests, greater differentiation to reflect the diversity of our partners, a greater sense of shared ownership of the policy and more flexibility in how it is implemented,” added Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.

Implementing the reviewed European Neighbourhood Policy

Long-lasting crises and the geopolitical relevance of the EU’s neighbourhood show the importance of having a solid policy framework in place to enhance political and economic relations with the EU’s neighbouring countries.

Today’s joint report by the European Commission and the High Representative on the implementation of the ENP review confirms the ENP’s central role in creating the conditions for the stabilisation of the EU’s neighbourhood, which the review identified as a top priority.

The review refocused the ENP to ensure a differentiated approach to partners, recognising the different aspirations of each country, joint ownership, based on both partners’ needs and EU interests, and more flexibility in the use of EU instruments. The new approach has been crucial in reenergising the EU’s relations with the ENP partner countries, including through the negotiation and adoption of new Partnership Priorities and the ongoing updating of Association Agendas, in each case sharpening the focus of relations for the next few years on areas of agreed mutual interest.

Within the new political framework, the EU is acting with more flexibility and sensitivity towards its partners, deploying its resources with more impact as regards the implementation of the key priorities. Flexibility in the use of EU funding (through the European Neighbourhood Instrument), has been increased through the use of Trust Funds to ensure a rapid delivery of financial assistance, through greater use of blending and of improved joint programming with Member States. Finally, through enhanced coordination with International Financial Institutions and the creation of a new flexibility cushion to allow rapid response to crisis situations and changing circumstances.

Progress in priority areas

The reviewed ENP has mobilised significant support to reforms in four priority areas: good governance, democracy, rule of law and human rights; economic development for stabilisation; security; migration and mobility.

With EU support, important steps have been taken by some partner countries to advance reforms on good governance, democracy, rule of law and human rights with extensive programmes on public administration reform and anti-corruption, on strengthening the judiciary, and on supporting human rights, as well as fostering a stronger civil society.

Boosting sustainable economic development is at the heart of the EU’s contribution to stabilising the neighbourhood and is crucial for developing partners’ resilience. Since the review, the EU has invested in structural reforms to improve competitiveness and the business environment, to boost trade, to support SMEs and to tailor education and skills to the needs of the real economy.

The ENP review significantly increased the policy’s focus on security issues, with a comprehensive approach to the security challenges in its neighbourhood. The EU has developed Security Sector Reform programmes both in the East and South, and taken forward important work on counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism, while strengthening efforts on disrupting organised crime and on enhanced cooperation in the area of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

The challenges of the refugee crisis and irregular migration remain high on the political agenda and have been a key aspect of the EU’s work with its neighbouring countries. The comprehensive approach put in place by the EU encompasses efforts to address the root causes of migration in order to reduce irregular migration, to promote legal migration and mobility and to effectively manage borders while safeguarding the right of EU citizens to free movement within the EU.


The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was reviewed in 2015 to respond to the new challenges of an evolving neighbourhood. The review – proposed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014 and welcomed by EU Member States – was subject to a wide public consultation prior to its publication in November 2015. The outcome of the review was a revised policy based on the principles of differentiation, flexibility and ownership under the overarching objective of stabilisation.

The Joint report adopted today is the first neighbourhood-wide report that is published by the EU as a standalone document, without a set of individual country reports. The aim of this new report style is to provide a broad overview on developments and trends in the neighbourhood. Country-specific reports are now adopted and published separately: they are timed to provide the basis for political exchanges in the run-up to meetings of the Association Council or similar high-level events held with respective partners.

Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP): stronger partnerships for a stronger neighbourhood
Brussels, 18 November 2015

The European Commission and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have unveiled today the main lines of the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), spelling out the Union’s renewed approach to its eastern and southern neighbours. The review follows broad consultations with Member States, partner countries, international organisations, social partners, civil society and academia.

“A stronger partnership with our neighbours is key for the European Union, while we face many challenges within our borders and beyond. The terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, but also recent attacks in Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq, show once more that we are confronted with threats that are global and have to be tackled by the international community united. We have to build together a safer environment, try to solve the many crises of our common region, support the development and the growth of the poorest areas, and address the root causes of migration. This is precisely the purpose of the current review of the ENP which will promote our common values and interests, and will also engage partners in increased cooperation in security matters. The measures set out today seek to find ways to strengthen together the resilience of our and our partners’ societies, and our ability to effectively work together on our common purposes,” said High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini.

“Our most pressing challenge is the stabilisation of our neighbourhood. Conflicts, terrorism and radicalisation threaten us all. But poverty, corruption and poor governance are also sources of insecurity. That is why we will refocus relations with our partners where necessary on our genuinely shared common interests. In particular economic development, with a major focus on youth employment and skills will be key,” added Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.

Stabilisation, differentiation and ownership

The ENP will take stabilisation as its main political priority in this mandate. Differentiation and greater mutual ownership will be further key elements of the new ENP, recognising that not all partners aspire to comply with EU rules and standards, and reflecting the wishes of each country concerning the nature and scope of its partnership with the EU. The EU will uphold and continue to promote universal values through the ENP, seeking more effective ways to promote democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and rule of law.

Key sectors

The new ENP will mobilise efforts to support inclusive economic and social development; creating job opportunities for youth will be among key measures of economic stabilisation. There will be a new focus on stepping up work with partners countries in the security sector, mainly in the areas of conflict-prevention, counter-terrorism and anti-radicalisation policies. Safe and legal mobility on the one hand and tackling irregular migration, human trafficking and smuggling on the other are further priorities. Finally, greater attention will be paid to working with partners on energy security and climate action.

More flexibility, effectiveness and a new partnership approach

The EU is offering to refocus relations with its neighbours in order to address the political priorities regarded by both sides as the basis of the partnership. This option will be discussed with partners, and is key to increasing their sense of ownership. The aim is also to involve Member states more intensively in the definition and implementation of policy in neighbourhood countries.

The new ENP will introduce some new working methods, including the abolition of the traditional annual package of country reports. Reporting will now be more tailor-made to the nature and working calendar of each relationship.

The new ENP will seek to deploy the available financial resources in a more flexible manner, so that the EU can react more swiftly to new challenges in the neighbourhood. Stronger engagement with civil society, social partners and with youth, is foreseen.

On a regional level, the Eastern Partnership will be further strengthened in line with commitments at the Riga Summit in 2015. The Union for the Mediterranean can play an enhanced role in supporting cooperation between southern neighbours. The new ENP will also seek to involve other regional actors, beyond the neighbourhood, where appropriate, in addressing regional challenges.

Next steps

In the coming months, the proposals unveiled today in the Joint Communication, will be discussed with Member States and partner countries, with a view to jointly determine new priorities and the shape of future relations. [Joint Communication:]


The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was launched in 2004, to help the EU support and foster stability, security and prosperity in the countries closest to its borders. The EU remains committed to these goals, but events of recent years have demonstrated the need for a new approach, a re-prioritisation and an introduction of new ways of working.

The review, proposed by President Juncker and requested by EU Member States, was subject to a public consultation which has brought over 250 contributions from Member States, partner governments, EU institutions, international organisations, social partners, civil society, business, think tanks, academia and other members of the public. This comprehensive response confirms the need for change in the ENP both in substance and in methodology.

Questions and Answers on the Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy Review
Brussels, 18 May 2017

What is the focus of the ENP Review implementation?

* The implementation process reflects the way in which the EU and its partners in the East and the South have been working to promote stabilisation (through building up resilience) focussing on the key priorities identified in the ENP Review adopted in November 2015: good governance, democracy, rule of law and human rights; economic development for stabilisation; security; and migration and mobility.

How have the ENP Review principles been applied?

* Following the adoption of the ENP Review, relations with the neighbouring countries have been reenergised through new forms of tailor-made partnerships. This has included work on new country-specific frameworks for bilateral cooperation in the form of Partnership Priorities and updated Association Agendas or existing Action Plans. The approach of joint ownership has made it possible to better reflect individual needs and aspirations of partner countries as well as EU interests and values. Financial assistance is being used in a more flexible way, to support the new priorities of the ENP.

How has coordination with other relevant policies been ensured?

* The ENP Review implementation has been guided by the overarching political priorities for the EU’s external action agreed with the Council following publication of the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy in June 2016.

* Coherence has also been ensured with the Rome Declaration which promotes a stronger role of Europe on the global stage, and with the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its sustainable development goals.

What is the state of play of bilateral engagement with Southern partners?

* Partnership Priorities with Lebanon and Jordan were adopted at the end of 2016, and with Algeria in March 2017.

* Draft Partnership Priorities with Egypt were provisionally agreed in December 2016.

* A Joint Communication on strengthening EU support for Tunisia was adopted in September 2016 that set out further actions to promote long-term stability, including good governance, justice reform, socio-economic development and security.

* The EU has supported Morocco’s reforms agenda in a wide range of social, economic and justice sectors.

* In Libya, EU cooperation has adjusted to the very particular circumstances, including by channelling support through municipalities.

* The EU Strategy for Syria adopted in March 2016 sets out the EU’s strategic goals, immediate objectives and lines of action for the resolution of the war in the country and dealing with its immediate and long-term humanitarian impact.

* As regards Israel and Palestine, the EU remains firmly committed to a two-state solution, which is vital for peace, the stability and long-term development of the region. The EU has invested considerably in strengthening the capacity of the Palestinian Authority. EU funding has also focused on investments that can contribute to sustainable improvements of living conditions, particularly in the Gaza Strip.

What is the state of play of bilateral engagement with Eastern partners?

* Parts of the Association Agreement with Ukraine have been provisionally applied since 2014, with the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) being provisionally applied since 1 January 2016. Visa free regime is undergoing EU’s approval process and is expected to enter into force in July.

* The EU-Georgia Association Agreement entered into force in July 2016 (provisionally applied since 2014), the EU-Georgia Association Agenda 2017-2020 is being updated, Georgia acceded to the Energy Community Treaty in October 2016 and the short-term visa free travel for Georgia citizens entered into force at the end of March 2017.

* The EU-Moldova Association Agreement entered into force in July 2016 (provisionally applied since 2014) and work is ongoing on the Association Agenda.

* Negotiations with Armenia on a new Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement were concluded in February 2017.

* Negotiations on a comprehensive agreement with Azerbaijan aimed at replacing the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (in force since 1999) were launched in February 2017.

* An informal Coordination Group, formed by EU and Belarus senior officials, was set up at the beginning of 2016 to better reflect the state of bilateral relations.

What is the state of play of regional engagement with Eastern partners?

* Based on the Riga priorities, since 2016 a more results-oriented approach towards the Eastern Partnership has been applied with a continued focus on strengthening state and societal resilience. A new strategic work-plan combining both bilateral and regional cooperation aims to guide the work of the EU and the six Eastern Partnership countries between Summits, by focusing on twenty deliverables by 2020. Each deliverable is linked to implementation tools, with clear milestones to be reached by the time of the next Eastern Partnership Summit in November 2017, and targets to be achieved by 2020. In parallel, work has continued in the framework of the Black Sea Synergy.

What is the state of play of regional engagement with Southern partners?

* A roadmap with concrete proposals to revise existing priorities of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and to increase synergies was endorsed by the UfM Ministers of Foreign Affairs on 23 January 2017 in Barcelona.

* In December 2016, the EU and the League of Arab States confirmed, at ministerial level, the Joint Work Programme, which puts an emphasis on activities related to crisis management, civil society, human rights, diplomacy, electoral observation and increased participation of women in economic development.

* The EU’s cooperation with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has gained new impetus with the successful co-organisation of a High Level Event on Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Hatred in New York in January 2016.

What progress has been registered in the area of good governance, democracy, rule of law and human rights?

* These priorities feature prominently in discussions on Partnership Priorities and revised Association Agendas. Through political dialogue, the EU continues to engage with partners on promoting respect of international human rights commitments.

* In 2016 the Commission developed in close co-operation with OECD/SIGMAthe Principles of Public Administration (PAR) to be used as a reference framework for those ENP countries that are committed to reform their administrations in line with internationally recognised good governance principles and practices.

* In 2016, the EU started implementing the Rights-Based Approach, encompassing all human rights, as one of the guiding principles of ENI financial assistance and an opportunity to mainstream more effectively the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

* The EU has continued to challenge the shrinking space available for civil society action throughout the Neighbourhood. The EU is implementing roadmaps for engagement with civil society.

* The implementation of the EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 has led to mandatory gender analysis of all project proposals and the inclusion of gender in all Partnership Priorities, Association Agendas and country reports.

What progress has been registered in the area of economic development for stabilisation?

* As regards domestic business environments, in October 2016 the EU together with the OECD launched a joint Programme on Promoting Investment in the Mediterranean.

* The setting up and implementation of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA) with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine is opening new trade and investment opportunities and a more stable operating framework for companies from the EU and the region. The EU is the number one trading partner for all three DCFTA partners.

* A number of initiatives on economic modernisation and entrepreneurship strategies aim at fostering SMEs.

* Increased emphasis has been put on drawing together the strands of cooperation in youth employment and employability.

* Work has continued in implementing regional development policy in partner countries.

* Education and youth cooperation is being supported by Erasmus+ programme.57 new capacity building projects further support the modernisation of higher education systems and universities in neighbouring countries. In addition to Erasmus+, participation to other programmes opens up new cooperation opportunities for administrations, businesses, universities, cultural and audio-visual operators, professionals, young people, students and researchers.

* The EU has been active in promoting in particular the use of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.

* On transport and connectivity, agreements amongst EU and various partner countries have been reached to ensure the necessary coordination, standardisation and prioritisation of major investments on core transport networks. Technical assistance projects are ongoing as well.

What progress has been registered in the security area?

* Several civilian CSDP missions and border assistance missions have been deployed in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Palestine and Libya and are financially supported by EU Member States or CSDP Trust Funds.

* Based on their 2016 Joint Declaration, the EU and NATO have stepped up their cooperation and coordination through a set of concrete measures that seek to support partners’ capacity building efforts in the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhoods and to strengthen their resilience.

* The EU supported ongoing dialogues on the conflicts affecting Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan with the aim of reaching peaceful and sustainable solutions.

* Cooperation with the Southern partners on tackling terrorism and preventing radicalisation leading to violent extremism has been strengthened. Upgraded security and counter-terrorism dialogues, and high-level visits have been conducted in the region. Counter-terrorism/security experts have been deployed in several EU Delegations with direct support of EU Member States.

* EU support to security sector reform in third countries is now framed by the new EU Security sector reform (SSR) policy adopted in July 2016.

* EU agencies are gradually getting more involved in providing capacity building support to partner countries and intensifying the exchange of operational and strategic information with ENP partner countries to help combat organised crime.

* Activities of the Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation (CBRN) Centres of Excellence (CoE) have been increased.

What progress has been registered in the area of migration and mobility?

* The EU has put in place a comprehensive approach to migration, which encompasses efforts to reduce irregular migration, to promote legal migration and mobility, to maximise the development impact of migration, address root causes, and effectively manage borders while safeguarding the right of EU citizens to free movement within the EU. This is reflected in the Communication on a new Partnership Framework with third countries adopted under the European Agenda on Migration and the Communication on Forced Displacement and Development and the related European Council Conclusions of June 2016.

* The EU has worked closely with the Member States of the Khartoum and Rabat Processes (both Neighbourhood countries and wider regional partners) to implement the agreed actions of the Valletta Summit on Migration (November 2015).

* In June 2016, the European Commission proposed a revised Blue Card Directive as part of the new policy on legal migration and making it more effective to attracting talent to the EU.

* Mobility Partnerships offer a framework for comprehensive cooperation with partner countries in order to address mobility issues, including where appropriate visa issues, as well as the need to facilitate return and readmission of irregular migrants.

What examples are there to illustrate that financial assistance is delivered in a more flexible way?

* Since the adoption of the ENP Review in November 2015, the EU has brought together a number of different tools to further improve the coordination and coherence of all aid modalities. To this end, grant cooperation programmes have been complemented by other activities designed and led by partner institutions with a more strategic use of blending, TAIEX, and Twinning. In particular, TAIEX and Twinning have been refocused to create closer synergy between policy work and financial assistance programming.

* The EU actively supports neighbouring countries that are facing exceptional external financing shortages through its Macro-Financial Assistance instrument and the Neighbourhood Investment Facility.

* In line with the ENI regulation, the ENP Review, and the Council Conclusions on stepping up Joint Programming of 12 May 2016, the EU is moving towards more joint programming in the neighbourhood.

* Recognising the important role of the International Financial Institutions, the European Commission followed up on an enhanced cooperation initiative, launched in 2015, with the most relevant development financial institutions active in the neighbourhood region.

* The EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisishas reached a total of EUR 932 million two years after its inception and will reach EUR 1.3 billion by summer 2017. In January 2017, a further EUR 200 million was announced to support the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.

* In September 2016, the Commission proposed the creation of a ‘flexibility cushion’ for external instruments to allow the EU to better react to new crises and unforeseen needs. The flexibility cushion is part of the proposed revision of the Financial Regulation.

* In September 2016, the European Commission proposed an ambitious European External Investment Plan to support investment in partner countries in Africa and the European Neighbourhood.

How often will such reports be published?

* Such neighbourhood-wide reports will be published regularly, although not necessarily on a yearly basis since country-specific reports will be adopted annually ahead of high-level meetings between the EU and each ENP partner country.

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