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25.4.  European neighbourhood policy

    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.

    In order to support the implementation of political initiatives that have shaped the ENP, i.e. the Eastern Partnership between the Union and its eastern neighbours, the Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity and the Union for the Mediterranean in the southern neighbourhood, the EU established the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) [Regulation 232/2014, implemented by Regulation 897/2014]. Endowed with a financial envelope of 15.4 billion EUR for the period 2014-2020 ENI aims at developing a special relationship, between the Union and the above-mentioned countries, founded on cooperation, peace and security, mutual accountability and a shared commitment to the universal values of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights in accordance with the TEU. Support under both this instrument and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is provided for the cross-border cooperation programmes between, on the one hand, Member States and, on the other hand, partner countries and/or the Russian Federation along the external borders of the Union, in order to promote integrated and sustainable regional development and cooperation between neighbouring border areas and harmonious territorial integration across the Union and with neighbouring countries. Hence, the EU acknowledges the specific status of the Russian Federation as both a Union neighbour and a strategic partner in the region. However, restrictive measures were imposed on the Russian Federation in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine [Decision 2014/145, last amended by Decision 2016/359 and Regulation 269/2014, last amended by Regulation 2016/353] and in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol [Decision 2014/386, last amended by Decision 2015/959].

    The specific objectives of the European Neighbourhood Instrument are notably: (a) promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, principles of equality and the fight against discrimination in all its forms, establishing deep and sustainable democracy, promoting good governance, fighting corruption, strengthening institutional capacity at all levels and developing a thriving civil society including social partners; (b) achieving progressive integration into the Union internal market and enhanced sectoral and cross-sectoral cooperation, including through legislative approximation and regulatory convergence towards Union and other relevant international standards, and improved market access; (c)  creating conditions for the better organisation of legal migration and the fostering of well-managed mobility of people; (d) supporting smart, sustainable and inclusive development in all aspects; reducing poverty, including through private-sector development, and reducing social exclusion; promoting capacity-building in science, education and in particular higher education, technology, research and innovation; promoting internal economic, social and territorial cohesion; fostering rural development; promoting public health; and supporting environmental protection.

    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 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 [Association Agreement and Decision 2014/295] 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 2014/7]; 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. With a view to supporting Ukraine's economic stabilisation and reforms, following its internal and external problems in the beginning of 2014, the Union made macro-financial assistance available to Ukraine of a maximum amount of EUR 1 billion [Decision 2014/215 and Decision 2015/601], In addition, it proceeded to the reduction or elimination of customs duties on goods originating in Ukraine [Regulation 374/2014, last amended by Regulation 1150/2014].

    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. However, as mentioned above, restrictive measures were imposed on the Russian Federation in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine [Decision 2014/145, last amended by Decision 2015/432 and Regulation 269/2014, last amended by Regulation 2015/427]. However, the EU imposed restrictive measures directed against certain persons responsible for the misappropriation of Ukrainian State funds, and persons responsible for human rights violations in Ukraine [Regulation 208/2014, last amended by Regulation 2016/311].

    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].

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