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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
European Neighbourhood Policy

What is it?

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) governs the EU's relations with 16 of the EU's closest Eastern and Southern Neighbours. To the South: AlgeriaEgyptIsraelJordanLebanonLibyaMoroccoPalestine*, Syria  and Tunisia and to the East: ArmeniaAzerbaijanBelarusGeorgiaMoldova and UkraineRussia takes part in Cross-Border Cooperation activities under the ENP and is not a part of the ENP as such. 

The ENP has been launched in 2003 and developed throughout 2004, with the objective of avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours and instead strengthening the prosperity, stability and security of all. It is based on the values of democracy, rule of law and respect of human rights.

The ENP was reviewed in 2011, following the 'Arab Spring' uprisings. However, given the significant developments in the Neighbourhood since 2011, it became essential to undertake a further  review of the ENP. In this regard, a Joint Communication setting out the main lines of the review of the ENP has been published on 18 November 2015 following a public consultation, involving partner countries, international organisations, social partners, civil society and academia.

Under the revised ENP, stabilisation of the region, in political, economic, and security related terms, will be at the heart of the new policy. Moreover, the revised ENP puts a strong emphasis on two principles: the implementation of a differentiated approach to our Neighbours, to respect the different aspirations of our partners and to better answer EU interests and the interests of our partners; and an increased ownership by partner countries and Member States.

The Joint Communication on the “Eastern Partnership policy beyond 2020- Reinforcing Resilience- an Eastern Partnership that delivers for all”, adopted on 18 March 2020, outlines the long-term policy objectives for future cooperation with Eastern Neighbourhood partners. It underlines how to address common challenges and sets out how the EU will work together with the partner countries in different policy areas in the future, with the aim to strengthen resilience, foster sustainable development and deliver concrete benefits to people.

On 9 February 2021, 25 years after the Barcelona Declaration, the European Commission published a Joint Communication with the HRVP “Renewed partnership with Southern Neighbourhood – A new Agenda for the Mediterranean”. Spurring sustainable long-term socio-economic recovery and job creation in the Southern Neighbourhood is a key shared priority and the innovative cornerstone of the new Agenda for the Mediterranean. The new Agenda will guide the future EU cooperation with South Neighbourhood partners.

How is it funded?

The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) (EUR 15.4 billion for the period 2014-2020) was the main financial instrument for implementing the ENP until 31 December 2020. The ENI provided the bulk of EU funding to the 16 ENP partner countries. It built on the achievements of the previous European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), which covered the period 2007-2013.

As part of the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, on 14 June 2018 the European Commission presented its proposal for the Regulation on Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI – Global Europe), which also covers the Neighbourhood region. The instrument was adopted on 11 June 2021.

The overall allocation for the NDICI – Global Europe over the 2021-2027 period is set at EUR 79.462 billion in current (2021) prices. This new instrument is structured around three pillars:

  • A programmed geographic pillar of EUR 60.388 that will serve the Union’s external cooperation in four geographical areas: the Neighbourhood (which will receive at least EUR 19.323 billion), Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas and the Caribbean. This pillar will also finance Erasmus+ with an indicative amount of EUR 1.8 billion.
  • A programmed thematic pillar of EUR 6.358 billion that will complement the geographic pillar through support for human rights and democracy, civil society organisations, peace, stability and conflict prevention, as well as global challenges.
  • A non-programmable rapid response pillar of EUR 3.182 billion that will allow the EU to swiftly respond to crises, contribute to peace, stability and conflict prevention, strengthen the resilience of states, societies, communities and individuals, linking humanitarian aid and development action. It will also ensure early action to address Union foreign policy needs and priorities.

In addition, an "emerging challenges and priorities cushion" of EUR 9.534 billion will cater for new and unforeseen needs and priorities, where most needed and duly justified. It will be used to top-up any of the three pillars mentioned above, including via an up-front reinforcement for the Human Rights and Democracy thematic programme, for the Civil Society Organisations thematic programme and for the Global Challenges thematic programme.

How does it work?

The ENP review proposes revised joint priorities for cooperation, better suited to the challenges of our time and adapted to the regions evolutions. In addition to good governance, democracy, rule of law and human rights, three other sets of joint priorities have been identified, each of them covering a wide number of cooperation sectors: 1) economic development for stabilisation; 2) the security dimension and 3) migration and mobility.

Bilateral cooperation

The vast majority of ENI funding was used for bilateral cooperation, tailor-made to each Neighbourhood partner country. A key element in this context was the bilateral ENP Action Plans (AP), which were mutually agreed between the EU and each partner country. Each AP set out an agenda of political and economic reforms with short and medium-term priorities and served as the political framework guiding the priorities for cooperation.

Regional, Neighbourhood-wide and Cross-Border Cooperation

In addition to bilateral cooperation, ENI funding has also supported regional, Neighbourhood-wide and Cross Border Cooperation (CBC) programmes. These programmes were designed to complement bilateral cooperation programmes.

Support to Civil Society

A key element of the ENP is to strengthen and promote the role of civil society actors in reforms and democratic changes taking place in the Neighbourhood countries. In particular local civil society organisations and their capacity to engage with public authorities are being strengthened.

In addition to bilateral and regional cooperation under the ENI, various additional EU initiatives and programmes have also supported civil society in the region, such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the Non-State Actors and Local Authorities thematic programme (NSA-LA) and the ENI Civil Society Facility.

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* This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.

Key documents

Background document | | Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

2015 - Review of the ENP