The Reform of the European Neighborhood Policy

 

The Reform of the European Neighborhood Policy

Alexander Duleba, Lucia Najšlová, Vladimír Benč, Vladimír Bilčík

The purpose of this policy paper is to draft a proposal on the reform of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) towards the EU’s Eastern neighbours. This policy paper will explain why the EU needs a comprehensive regional dimension of its Eastern neighbourhood policy; identify the flaws in the existing framework and suggest recommendations for its improvement.

At present, the EU applies several frameworks to development of relations with its Eastern neighbours: Common spaces with Russia within the EU-Russia bilateral framework; the European neighbourhood policy in relations with Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan; and third are the EU’s frozen relations with Belarus. These three policies represent the EU’s three different and separate Eastern policy agendas or, in other words, parallel EU policies towards its Eastern neighbours. We argue that a single strategic framework is necessary. Any reform of the ENP in/and for Eastern Europe should lead to a gradual convergence of the existing strategic frameworks. It implies that there will be no effective EU policy towards Russia without adapting it to the ENP in/and for Eastern Europe and vice versa there will be no successful ENP in Eastern Europe without adapting it to the EU policy towards Russia.

The EU has one more important process going on in the East – the accession negotiations with Turkey. We argue that an efficient policy towards the Eastern neighbourhood needs to take into account Turkey’s role in the region and to take advantage of the special status the country has with the EU after the negotiations have started. The EU must be careful not to give the impression that the ambition is to remove Turkey from a candidate list and put it into the neighbourhood basket. Quite the opposite – the situation on the ground suggests that the progress of the accession negotiations might also be an important factor in the EU’s relations with the neighbourhood.

The policy recommendations on the reform of the Eastern ENP presented in this paper are based on the evaluation of the present ENP and its instruments. This paper examines the actual implementation of the Action Plan as an ENP instrument in terms of both its content and its institutional framework following the lessons learned from the experience of Ukraine. It assesses new ENP instruments that have been introduced during the EU presidencies of Finland and Germany (2006-2007) under the ENP Plus proposal, especially when it comes to the strengthened sector policy dialogue and prospects for the accession of ENP countries to European Community Programmes and Agencies. It pays attention also to the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) in terms of its coherence with the aforementioned ENP policy planning and implementing instruments. In addition, the policy paper examines the existing regional frameworks for the ENP, and, particularly, the recently presented Polish-Swedish initiative on Eastern Partnership, with the aim of exploring modalities for establishing a functional regional framework for the ENP in Eastern Europe as a consistent part of EU regional policy towards Eastern Europe.

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