The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was developed to promote prosperity, security, stability as well as rule-of-law and democratic structures in the countries bordering on the enlarged EU.
It is geared towards the EU’s immediate neighbours both to the east (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) and the south (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Tunisia).
The aim is to help partner countries foster stability, modernization and democratic reform in particular as well as to promote dialogue with civil society. To this end, the EU is providing financial backing and encouraging greater economic integration, closer political and cultural relations, as well as deeper sectoral cooperation with and among partner countries.
The more progress a country makes on reform, the more support it will receive (more for more). If a country fails to make any progress, the EU will review its support.
In concrete terms, the ENP is implemented first and foremost via Action Plans for individual ENP partners which are agreed between the EU and the relevant partner country. The Commission takes stock of what headway has been made in annual progress reports. The legal prerequisite for such a Plan is the existence of valid partnership and cooperation or association agreements with the EU.
To help realize the original ENP, in 2007 the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) was created with a budget of some 11 billion euros for the period 2007‑2013. ENPI was replaced in 2013 by the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), for the period 2014-2020 more than 15 billion euros will be available for ENI.
The southern Neighbourhood
In 2011, in the wake of the Arab Spring, the European Union realigned its Neighbourhood Policy towards its Southern Neighbours as "Partnership with the Southern Mediterranean for Democracy and Shared Prosperity" focused on supporting the political transition as well as promotion of the economic development of the southern partner countries. It combines the EU programs to implement democratic reform, institution-building in areas such as judicial reform, the fight against corruption and the promotion of civil society reinforced by measures to strengthen economic cooperation, especially in the form of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTA) and Mobility Partnerships. During the year 2014, these DCFTA negotiations continued with Morocco, and were prepared with Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.
Considering the outstanding history of the Arab Spring, Austria advocates increased EU engagement in the southern Mediterranean. However, the EU support measures must be effective, and these funds need to be used efficiently and to yield justifiable results.
Austria is also a member of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and participates in the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) that linkes local NGOs in the framework of the UfM. The UfM membership encompasses 43 countries, namely all EU members, the southern Mediterranean countries, as well as Jordan and Mauritania.
The aim of this Euro-Mediterranean partnership is to promote integration and democratic reforms through concrete projects that strengthen regional and sub-regional cooperation. The concrete project work is coordinated by the General Secretariat in Barcelona. The activities of the UfM are financed by voluntary contributions from Member States and from the EU's ENI budget.
Austria sees the Union for the Mediterranean as a useful multilateral forum to enhance regional cooperation in the Mediterranean region that complements the bilateral cooperation approach of the ENP with the Southern neighbours.
Since March 2012, the European Union through the European External Action Service is co-chairing the UfM together with a member country from the South. This guarantees the complementarity of the UfM with the cooperation programs of the European Neighbourhood Policy and thus enhances the effectiveness of EU assistance to the countries of the southern Mediterranean. The UfM is also an important platform for dialogue where 43 countries from Europe and the entire Mediterranean basin, including Israeli and Palestinian representatives, meet regularly at working level. Conferences of ministers on specific topics are also held twice a semester. Within the Parliamentary Assembly of the UfM, a summit of the presidents and Speakers of the Parliaments of all member states was held in April 2013 in Marseilles that was also attended by the president of the Austrian Parliament, Ms. Barbara Prammer.
The Anna Lindh Foundation with its secretariat based in Alexandria promotes the exchange between institutions working in the cultural sector and civil society. The Mediterranean Forum of the Anna Lindh Foundation in Marseille in April 2013 was attended by over 1550 representatives of NGOs from 52 countries. The national ALF Network for Austria is managed by the Austrian Institute for International Affairs (oiip).
In 2009 the EU and its Eastern neighbours Ukraine, Moldova, Geogia, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan established an Eastern Partnership as a regional component of the ENP (Prague 7th of May 2009) with a view to promoting political association and economic integration with these eastern neighbours.
The Eastern Partnership is the most ambitious offer of cooperation under the EU’s Neighbourhood Policy. It is based in the first instance on the conclusion of comprehensive association agreements with the EU, DCFTAs (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements) forming part of them. These association agreements will replace the existing and in some respects outdated partnership and cooperation agreements with the partner countries and place their relations with the EU on a new footing.
The agreements with Georgia and Moldova were initialled at the Summit in Vilnius (28 to 29 November 2013) and signed on 27th of June 2014. The political parts of the association agreement with Ukraine were signed on 21st of March 2014 and the other parts on 27th of June 2014.
The Eastern Partnership promotes the reform course these countries have embarked on and offers EU support that gives additional impetus to their political, economic and societal transformation.
A long term goal of the Eastern Partnership is also visa liberalisation.