The EU cooperates with Belarus in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy. Policies pursued by President Lukashenka's regime prevent the EU from offering Belarus full participation in the Eastern Partnership.
All programmes funded by the EU are to the benefit of Belarusian people at large and include significant support to civil society.
The European Neighbourhood Instrument is the EU financial instrument dedicated to the Neighbourhood for the period 2014-2020. It replaces the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) of 2007-2013. Other funding sources are the thematic programmes, focused on human rights and civil society.
EU assistance to Belarus takes mainly the form of country Action Programmes funded every year under the ENI. Belarus benefits also from regional and multi-country Action Programmes funded under the ENI.
The strategic framework, key results and indicative financial allocations for the EU's bilateral cooperation with Belarus in 2014-2017 is set out in the Multi-annual indicative programme . The three priority sectors are:
- Social inclusion
- Local and regional economic development
Complementary support for civil society and for the modernisation of public institutions can be provided within and outside the priority sectors. Engagement with civil society is a prominent feature of EU cooperation in Belarus across all sectors.
In 2014-2017, ENI bilateral assistance to Belarus may range between a minimum of €71 million and a maximum of €89 million. These figures are indicative: final allocations will depend on the country's needs and commitment to reforms.
Ongoing bilateral programmes (under the ENPI) focus on reforms in energy, environment, food safety, regional and local development, education and people-to-people contacts.
In 2007-2013, the EU committed €94 million for bilateral assistance to Belarus under the ENPI. This included €22.5 million of direct support for engaging with civil society, media and local authorities and for targeted scholarship programmes.
Belarus participates also in regional programmes funded under the ENPI/ENI (mainly in border management and environment), in the Eastern Partnership Flagship Initiatives, in cross-border cooperation and in some initiatives open to all Neighbour countries (Erasmus+ and TAIEX).
NGOs and other civil society organisations can also benefit from various EU thematic programmes - notably the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities.