Tuesday 18 October 2005, by European Commission
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INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
With its historic enlargement earlier this month, the European Union has taken a big step forward in promoting security and prosperity on the European continent. EU enlargement also means that the external borders of the Union have changed. We have acquired new neighbours and have come closer to old ones. These circumstances have created both opportunities and challenges. The European Neighbourhood Policy is a response to this new situation. It will also support efforts to realise the objectives of the European Security Strategy.
In March 2003 the Commission presented its Communication «Wider Europe - Neighbourhood: A new Framework for relations with our Eastern and Southern Neighbours» , following a joint letter to the Council by the High Representative Mr Javier Solana and Commissioner Patten in August 2002.
In June 2003 the Council welcomed this Communication as a good basis for developing a new range of policies towards these countries, defined overall goals and principles and identified possible incentives. The Thessaloniki European Council in June 2003 endorsed the Council conclusions and looked forward to the work to be undertaken by the Council and Commission in putting together the various elements of these policies.
In July 2003 the Commission tabled a Communication «Paving the Way for a New Neighbourhood Instrument»  and established a Wider Europe Task Force and a Wider Europe Inter-Service Group. In October 2003, the Council «invited the Commission with the contribution, where appropriate, of the High Representative to present in the light of the conclusions of June detailed proposals for the relevant action plans early in 2004 in order to take this matter forward by June 2004.». The Council also welcomed the communication on the new neighbourhood instrument. The European Council of October 2003 welcomed the progress made on this initiative and urged the Council and the Commission to take it forward, with a view to ensuring a comprehensive, balanced and proportionate approach, including a financial instrument.
On this basis the Commission has made a detailed analysis of the elements which could be included in this initiative, both with respect to substance and procedure. The Commission has made two oral progress reports to the Council, in October 2003 and February 2004, and contributed to detailed discussions in the Permanent Representatives Committee and the relevant Council working groups, concerning the possible elements to be included in European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Actions Plans with a number of countries in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean region. The parts of these Action Plans related to enhanced political co-operation and the Common Foreign and Security Policy have been worked on and agreed jointly by the services of the Commission and the High Representative The Commission has held exploratory talks with partners in Eastern Europe and the Southern Mediterranean  which have Partnership and Cooperation Agreements or Association Agreements in force. These talks have confirmed their interest in ENP and ascertained their views on the priorities to be addressed in Action Plans. The intention is progressively to extend the process to other countries, which are at present within the scope of this initiative, as their agreements advance from the signature to the ratification stage.
At the same time the Commission has made an evaluation of the present situation in these countries, with respect to their political and economic systems and their co-operation with the European Union. The present Communication is designed to convey, to the Council and the European Parliament, the results of this work and to map out the next steps in carrying forward the European Neighbourhood Policy.
Since this policy was launched, the EU has emphasised that it offers a means to reinforce relations between the EU and partner countries, which is distinct from the possibilities available to European countries under Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union. The objective of the ENP is to share the benefits of the EU’s 2004 enlargement with neighbouring countries in strengthening stability, security and well-being for all concerned. It is designed to prevent the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours and to offer them the chance to participate in various EU activities, through greater political, security, economic and cultural co-operation.
The method proposed is, together with partner countries, to define a set of priorities, whose fulfilment will bring them closer to the European Union. These priorities will be incorporated in jointly agreed Action Plans, covering a number of key areas for specific action: political dialogue and reform; trade and measures preparing partners for gradually obtaining a stake in the EU’s Internal Market; justice and home affairs; energy, transport, information society, environment and research and innovation; and social policy and people-to-people contacts. The privileged relationship with neighbours will build on mutual commitment to common values principally within the fields of the rule of law, good governance, the respect for human rights, including minority rights, the promotion of good neighbourly relations, and the principles of market economy and sustainable development. Commitments will also be sought to certain essential aspects of the EU’s external action, including, in particular, the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as abidance by international law and efforts to achieve conflict resolution.
The Action Plans will draw on a common set of principles but will be differentiated, reflecting the existing state of relations with each country, its needs and capacities, as well as common interests. The level of ambition of the EU’s relationships with its neighbours will take into account the extent to which these values are effectively shared.
Progress in meeting the agreed priorities will be monitored in the bodies established by the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements or Association Agreements. The Commission will report periodically on progress accomplished. On the basis of this evaluation, the EU, together with partner countries, will review the content of the Action Plans and decide on their adaptation and renewal. Decisions may also be taken, on this basis, on the next step in the development of bilateral relations, including the possibility of new contractual links. These could take the form of European Neighbourhood Agreements whose scope would be defined in the light of progress in meeting the priorities set out in the Action Plans.
The Action Plans will be put forward by the Commission, with the contribution of the High Representative on issues related to political co-operation and the CFSP, following exploratory talks with the countries concerned. It is suggested that they be approved by the respective Cooperation or Association Councils. If any of the Actions proposed imply the need for legal acts or formal negotiations, the Commission will put forward the necessary proposals or recommendations.
The Action Plans will provide a point of reference for the programming of assistance to the countries concerned. Assistance from existing sources will be complemented in the future by support from the European Neighbourhood Instrument. The present communication puts forward for discussion an outline of this instrument, building on the Commission’s communication of July 2003. Meanwhile Neighbourhood Programmes are being developed through existing support mechanisms. The Commission seeks to offer neighbouring countries additional support through instruments such as technical assistance and twinning. It is also conducting a survey of EU programmes and agencies where the participation of neighbouring countries may be in the interests of the enlarged EU and of neighbouring countries. Russia is a key partner of the EU in its immediate neighbourhood. Together, Russia and the EU have decided to develop further their strategic partnership through the creation of four common spaces, as defined at the St Petersburg summit in May 2003.
Belarus and the EU will be able to develop contractual links when Belarus has established a democratic form of government, following free and fair elections. It will then be possible to extend the full benefits of the European Neighbourhood Policy to Belarus. Meanwhile the EU will consider ways of strengthening support to civil society in ways described below. The EU looks forward to Libya’s entry into the Barcelona process on the basis of Libya’s full acceptance of the Barcelona acquis and of the resolution of outstanding bilateral issues. This will pave the way to the establishment of normal relations so that Libya will be able to benefit from the European Neighbourhood Policy.
The present Communication contains recommendations concerning the inclusion of the countries of the Southern Caucasus in the European Neighbourhood Policy.
The European Neighbourhood Policy will reinforce existing forms of regional and subregional cooperation and provide a framework for their further development. The ENP will reinforce stability and security and contribute to efforts at conflict resolution. This document contains recommendations on the development of regional cooperation and integration, as a means to address certain issues arising at the enlarged EU’s external borders. By further developing various forms of cross-border co-operation, involving local and regional authorities, as well as non-governmental actors, the EU and its partners can work together to ensure that border regions benefit from the EU’s 2004 enlargement. In the south, the ENP will also encourage the participants to reap the full benefits of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (the Barcelona process), to promote infrastructure interconnections and networks, in particular energy, and to develop new forms of cooperation with their neighbours. The ENP will contribute to develop further regional integration, building on the achievements of the Euro- Mediterranean partnership, notably in the area of trade. It will reinforce efforts to meet the objectives of the European security strategy in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
The European Neighbourhood Policy’s vision involves a ring of countries, sharing the EU’s fundamental values and objectives, drawn into an increasingly close relationship, going beyond co-operation to involve a significant measure of economic and political integration. This will bring enormous gains to all involved in terms of increased stability, security and well being. The Action Plans, which are to be developed on the basis of the principles set out in this Communication, constitute a first major step towards realising this vision. The Action Plans will define the way ahead over the next three to five years. The next step could consist in the negotiation of European Neighbourhood Agreements, to replace the present generation of bilateral agreements, when Action Plan priorities are met. Progress made in this way will enable the EU and its partners to agree on longer term goals for the further development of relations in the years ahead.
The Commission invites the Council to consider the approach outlined in the present Communication and to draw up conclusions on the way to carry this initiative forward, addressing the substance of potential Action Plans and the countries with which they should be drawn up, bearing in mind the commitment to shared values. On this basis, the Commission, with the participation of representatives of the Presidency and the High Representative, is ready to complete exploratory talks with the countries identified and to present draft Action Plans. It suggests that these Action Plans be approved by the respective Cooperation or Association Councils. It is also ready to begin preparations with certain other countries, referred to in this Communication, to which this initiative applies.
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 COM(2003) 104 final, 11.3.2003.
 COM(2003) 393 final, 1.7.2003.
 Israel, Jordan, Moldova, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Tunisia and Ukraine.