The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) aims to enhance prosperity, stability and good governance in the countries neighbouring the EU though a deeper political relationship and economic integration. The European Neighbourhood Policy applies to countries - other than those of the EFTA and of the EEA [see section 25.1], the candidates for accession [see section 25.2] and the potential candidates [see section 25.3] - which are EU's immediate neighbours by land or sea, i.e.: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine. However, since the ENP builds upon existing agreements between the EU and each partner country (Partnership and Cooperation Agreements or Association Agreements in the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership [see section 25.5]), the ENP is not yet ''activated'' for Belarus, Libya and Syria, because no such Agreements are yet in force. Although Russia is also a neighbour of the EU, their relations are instead developed through a Strategic Partnership covering four ''common spaces''.
The ENP offers EU neighbours a privileged relationship, building upon a mutual commitment to common values (democracy and human rights, rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development). The ENP goes beyond existing relationships to offer a closer political relationship and economic integration. The level of ambition of the relationship depends on the extent to which these values are taken up by each EU neighbour. The ENP remains distinct from the process of enlargement although it does not prejudge, for European neighbours, how their relationship with the EU may develop in future, in accordance with Treaty provisions.
The central element of the European Neighbourhood Policy is the bilateral ENP Action Plans agreed between the EU and each partner. These set out an agenda of political and economic reforms with short and medium-term priorities covering a number of key areas for specific action, including political dialogue and reform, trade and economic reform, equitable social and economic development, justice and home affairs, energy, transport, information society, environment, research and innovation, the development of civil society and contacts between peoples. The Action Plans draw on a common set of principles but are differentiated, reflecting the existing state of relations with each country, its needs and capacities, as well as common interests and progress in the implementation of EU values mentioned above.
In order to support the partner countries’ commitment to common values and principles and their efforts in the implementation of the action plans, the European Union provides financial assistance to those countries and supports various forms of cooperation among them and between them and the Member States with the aim of developing a zone of shared stability, security and prosperity involving a significant degree of economic integration and political cooperation. To this end, the EU created a single policy-driven instrument, the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), which replaced, since 1 January 2007, a number of pre-existing instruments (such as MEDA and in part TACIS), ensuring coherence and simplifying assistance programming and management [Regulation 1638/2006]. The ENPI is designed to target sustainable development and approximation to EU policies and standards, by supporting the agreed priorities in the ENP Action Plans, as well as the Strategic Partnership with Russia. For the budgetary period 2007-2013, approximately €12 billion in EC funding are available to support these partners' reforms. Funds allocated to individual country programmes depend on their needs and absorption capacity as well as their implementation of agreed reforms. An important aspect of the ENP and the strategic partnership with Russia is to markedly improve cross-border cooperation with countries along the EU’s external land and maritime borders, thus giving substance to EU's aim of avoiding new dividing lines. The ENPI therefore supports cross-border contacts and co-operation between local and regional actors and civil society. In their efforts to approximate EU policies and standards ENP countries are assisted by the Technical Assistance Information Exchange Office (TAIEX) [Decision 2006/62, see section 25.2].
In Εastern Europe and the southern Caucasus, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements provide the basis for contractual relations. Since in May 2003, the European Union and Russia have decided to develop their specific strategic partnership through the creation of four common spaces, EU assistance is used to support the development of this partnership and to promote cross-border cooperation at the border between Russia and its European Union neighbours. In the Mediterranean, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (the Barcelona Process) [see section 25.5] provides a regional framework for cooperation which is complemented by a network of Association Agreements. Hence, the neighbourhood policy for Mediterranean partners takes into account the agreement reached in that context on establishing a free-trade area for goods by 2010 and beginning a process of asymmetric liberalisation.
On the bilateral level, partnership and cooperation agreements (PCAs), laying the foundations for a qualitative change in economic ties based on the market economy and respect for democratic principles have been signed with Russia [Agreement and Decision 97/800 and Protocol and Decision 2007/541] and Ukraine [Agreement and Decision 98/149 and Protocol, Decision 2011/34 and Protocol] as well as with the Independent States of the former Soviet Union: Armenia [Agreement and Decision 1999/602 and Protocol and Decision 2007/547]; Georgia [Agreement and Decision 99/515, Protocol and Decision 2007/548]; Moldova [Agreement and Decision 98/401 and Protocol and Decision 2011/27]; the Republic of Azerbaijan [Agreement and Decision 99/614, Protocol and Decision 2006/452]; Kazakhstan [Agreement and Decision 1999/490, Protocol and Decision 2007/36]; Uzbekistan [Agreement and Decision 1999/593, Protocol and Decision 2006/458]; and Kyrgyzstan [Agreement and Decision 1999/491, Protocol and Decision 2006/712]. The agreements govern all political, economic and trade relations between the parties and lay the foundations for cooperation in social, human, scientific, technological and cultural matters. Implementation of these agreements, which combine areas of Member State and EU responsibility and have an initial validity of ten years, depends on political and economic developments in each of the countries in question and on the closeness of their relations with the European Union. The EU played a crucial role in conflict management and conflict resolution in the Caucasus crisis between Georgia and Russia in August 2008.
An EU-Russia energy dialogue was instituted at the bilateral summit in Paris on 30 October 2000. This dialogue provides an opportunity to raise questions of common interest relating to the energy sector, including the introduction of cooperation on energy saving, rationalisation of production and transport infrastructures, European investment possibilities, and relations between producer and consumer countries. At the EU-Russia summit on 29 May 2002, the EU announced its intention of recognising Russia as a market economy and to take the necessary measures in order to allow Russia to benefit rapidly from the associated trade advantages, particularly as regards anti-dumping procedures. It also welcomed the progress made on the project for a common European economic area [see section 1.5.5]. The EU and Russia recognised the importance of enhancing trade in primary energy, and also addressed issues relating to natural gas, electricity and nuclear power. They undertook to continue and enhance political dialogue and cooperation on crisis management and security. In order to establish a special transit system between Russia and Kaliningrad, which is a Russian enclave within the enlarged European Union, the EU undertook to issue facilitated transit documents (FTDs) and facilitated rail transit documents (FRTDs) [Regulations 693/2003 and 694/2003].
At the St. Petersburg Summit in May 2003, the EU and Russia agreed to reinforce their co-operation by creating in the long term four ''common spaces'' in the framework of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement: a common economic space; a common space of freedom, security and justice; a space of co-operation in the field of external security; and a space of research and education, including cultural aspects. The Moscow Summit in May 2005 adopted a single package of road maps to act as short and medium-term instruments for the creation of the four Common Spaces. They indicate the actions necessary to make the common spaces a reality. They thereby determine the agenda for co-operation between the EU and Russia for the medium-term.
The EU is also heavily involved in the creation and operation of the International Centre for Science and Technology which provides employment for certain of the nuclear experts of the ex-USSR, who could otherwise be tempted to emigrate to countries wishing to acquire or build up nuclear weapons capacity [Regulations 3955/92, 3956/92 and 501/94, see section 18.2.6].