European Neighbourhood Policy
European Neighbourhood Policy
The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was set up in 2003 as a new model of political partnership and economic integration with the EU’s 16 immediate neighbours, which was due to incorporate 10 new partners in 2004, thus displacing its borders towards the east. Its legal basis lies in Article 8 of the Treaty on European Union, and seeks “to develop an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation”.

In order to achieve its aims, the ENP has its own financial instrument, the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), with a provision of 15.4 billion euros for the period 2014-2020 and is based on the experiences and achievements of the former European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). The vast majority of the ENI’s funds are bilaterally channelled with the aim of financing reforms and priorities reached by mutual agreement with each partner in its respective Action Plans. Furthermore, the ENI also finances regional programmes in the east and south, cross-border cooperation programmes and programmes for the whole neighbourhood, noteworthy of which are the institutional cooperation programmes (tools or ‘twinnings’ and technical assistance and the exchange of information – TAIEX). There is also a flexible umbrella with funds allocated to those countries that have best complied with the agreed reform programmes.

This policy was last revised in 2011 within the framework of the so-called ‘Arab Springs’, with the aim of providing better support to our partners in their democratic transition processes. However, the shifting current situation of an increasingly complex and heterogeneous neighbourhood means that a new update was advisable. Thus, the new President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, in his mission statement the Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood, commissioned Johannes Hahn with initiating a process to update the ENP over a 12-month period. Following a period of informal consultations, the process was officially launched with the publication on 4 March 2015 of the Joint Consultation paper (‘Towards a new European Neighbourhood Policy’), by the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. This document proposes a series of questions on the definition and functioning of the ENP, inviting all the parties involved (Member States, neighbouring States, civil society, etc.) to contribute their own points of view on the future of this policy. The process will terminate in November this year with the publication of a new Communiqué that will incorporate all the contributions received.

Spain considers that this process should serve for the ENP to be more effective and flexible without renouncing its essential characteristics of unity, foreseeability and long-term vision. In this regard, Spain has advocated the following ideas:
- The suitability of changing the focus of the ENP, such that it ceases to be perceived as a paternalistic exercise: it should be based on the principle of co-ownership and a better use of the principle of country-by-country differentiation, such that a genuine and mutually-acceptable partnership relation can be established with each partner, adapted to its realities and particular ambitions including, as the case may be, compatibility with other existing political and economic areas.

- Closer political attention should be paid to the Southern Neighbourhood, which has a great strategic importance and raises serious challenges for the EU (migration, Islamic terrorism, Ebola, etc.). In this regard, the traditional distribution of funds: 2/3 South, 1/3 East, should be maintained.


- It is necessary to develop regional cooperation by strengthening the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the Eastern Partnership.


- The ENP is not a forerunner of an enlargement. These are different policies with a different legal basis.

  • Southern dimension of the ENP

    In contrast to what happened in the East, where the Eastern Partnership has been set up, the projection of the ENP towards the South lacks its own forum for regional dialogue. Strictly speaking, the Union for the Mediterranean does not form part of the ENP, but rather is an international organisation with its own legal personality. However, given that the UfM seeks to improve multilateral relations between the EU and its Mediterranean partners, it also serves as a de facto forum through which to develop cooperation and regional dialogue with the Southern Neighbourhood.

  • Eastern dimension of the ENP
    In its projection towards the east, the ENP received a strong boost in 2009 with the creation of the Eastern Partnership, conceived as a specific multilateral political framework for Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, with the aim of speeding up their political association, extending economic integration and driving the mobility of their citizens. This Eastern Partnership has met, at a level of Heads of State and/or Government, at four summits to date: Prague 2009, Warsaw 2011, Vilnius 2013 and Riga 2015.

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