Southern Neighbourhood

Southern Neighbourhood

How does it work?

Cooperation with the Southern Mediterranean and the Middle East takes place in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which has been launched in 2004 and revised in 2011 following the 'Arab Spring' uprisings. The bulk of funding for implementing the revised ENP  derives from the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), which replaced the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI - funding period 2007-2013).

EU cooperation with the southern Neighbourhood includes the following ten partner countries: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine*, Syria and Tunisia.

In 2011, the EU completed a major review of its European Neighbourhood Policy and put forward a new policy response to a changing Neighbourhood. In response to the 'Arab Spring' uprisings, the Joint Communication of 8 March 2011, proposed a 'Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean', and set out an incentive-based approach ('more-for-more'), rewarding those partners that deliver on democratic reforms with more assistance and cooperation. This was further elaborated in the 25 May 2011 Joint Communication on the review of the ENP ('A new Response to a Changing Neighbourhood').

In these Joint Communications, the EU reviewed and adjusted initiatives to ensure that they responded to the immediate challenges in the region whilst also substantially increasing the funds available for the region. This included an in-depth reveiw of the EU bilateral cooperation with the different Southern Neighbourhood partner countries. In addition, two new assistance programs have been created for the period 2001-2013:

  • the SPRING programme (Support for Partnership, Reform and Inclusive Growth), which translates the new incentive based approach into operational terms. This flagship initiative is providing support to southern Neighbourhood countries for democratic transformation, institution building and economic growth. An amount of €540 million has been allocated for 2011- 2013.
  • the Civil Society Facility, designed to strengthen the capacity of civil society to promote reform and increase public accountability in their countries. It has a budget of €34 million for 2011-2013.


In financial terms, the EU has made available for the Southern Neighbourhood region over €4 billion for the period 2011-2013 under the ENPI alone (€1.3 billion in 2011, over €1.4 billion in 2012, and over 1.5 billion in 2013). This includes additional funding mobilized in response to the Syria crisis; the additional funds provided under the SPRING programme, and the Civil Society Facility.

Cooperation with the southern Neighbourhood partners covers a wide range of sectors; including social and economic issues, including social infrastructure, regional economic integration and the protection of the environment. The identification of future cooperation sectors for the on-going multi-annual financial period (2014-2020) will most likely be finalized in the second half of 2014.

In 2013, the EU prepared a response to the Syrian crisis, in order to help to mitigate the effects of this humanitarian catastrophe which has severe consequences for the stability of the neighbouring countries. On 24 June 2013, the Joint Communication “Towards a comprehensive EU approach to the Syrian crisis” was adopted, which outlines a comprehensive respond to the crisis and announced an additional €400 million development and humanitarian assistance package to address the consequences of the crisis in Syria and in the neighbouring countries, notably in Jordan and Lebanon. To date, the EU, including Member States, is it the largest donor to respond to the Syrian crisis and has mobilized over €2.8 billion since 2011 in deveopment and humanitarian asssitance.

Regional, interregional- and Cross-Border Cooperation programmes

In addition to the bilateral cooperation, the ENI also finances regional, multi-country and Cross-Border Cooperation programmes.


* This designation does not entail any recognition of Palestine as a state and is without prejudice to positions on the recognition of Palestine as a state.


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