In 2003, in the wake of EU enlargement, the European Commission introduced the new European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), for all its neighbours to the east and the south (COM(2003) 104, March 2003). The overall objective of this policy is to bring neighbouring countries closer to the EU policies and practices. The ENP “seeks to contribute to stability and good governance in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood and to promote a ring of well-governed countries to the East and South of the EU with whom the EU can enjoy close and cooperative relations. In return for the implementation of political, economic and institutional reforms, the neighbouring countries obtain:
- the prospect of moving beyond the existing relationship to a significant degree of integration, including the conclusion of deeper free trade agreements and the possibility of participating progressively in key aspects of EU programmes;
- enhanced preferential trading relations and market opening;
- perspectives for lawful migration and movement of persons;
- intensified cooperation to prevent and face common security threats;
- closer dialogue in the context of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), based on shared values, strong democratic institutions and a common understanding of the need to institutionalise respect for human rights;
- integration into EU transport, energy, ICT and research markets and networks”.
In support of the ENP, as part of the reform of EC assistance instruments, the EU decided to replace, starting from January 1st 2007, the geographical programmes - TACIS (for our Eastern neighbours and Russia) and MEDA (for our Southern Mediterranean neighbours) – and various thematic programmes with a single European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI).
ENPI is a much more flexible, policy-driven instrument. It is designed to target sustainable development, progressive economic integration between the EU and its neighbouring countries and their approximation to EU policies and standards. ENPI supports the agreed priorities in the partnership and cooperation agreements between the EU and the Partner Countries, such as the Barcelona Process, the Association Agreements, and the ENP Action Plans.
The strategic framework for the ENPI programming allocation at regional level in the Mediterranean is provided by the Regional Strategy Paper (RSP) 2007-2013 which was drafted on the basis of the policy priorities agreed by the Heads of State at the Euro-Mediterranean Summit in Barcelona in November 2005. The Regional Indicative Programme 2007-2010 transposes this policy response into concrete regional programmes representing a total of € 343, 3 million.
EU bilateral assistance priorities are identified, together with the countries concerned and other relevant actors, in general Country Strategy Papers (CSPs) covering 7 year periods, National Indicative Programmes (NIPs) covering 3 years and detailed annual programmes. The priority actions identified in the ENP Action Plans and in the Association Agreements in accordance with the authorities of the country are also used in guiding the programming of assistance.
Among the innovative tools of technical assistance for the ENP partners, legislative approximation, regulatory convergence and institution-building are being supported through mechanisms which proved successful in transition countries that are now EU Member States i.e. targeted expert assistance (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange - TAIEX), long-term twinning arrangements with EU Member States’ administrations – national, regional or local – and participation in relevant Community programmes and agencies. Another new instrument is the Governance Facility which provides additional support to the partner country or countries that have made most progress in implementing the governance priorities agreed in their Action Plans. The Neighbourhood Investment Facility was established at the end of 2007 and started to support lending to ENP partners in 2008. The Facility funds projects of common interest that focus primarily on energy, environment and transport.
Following the definition of an EC assistance programme, the relevant tenders are open to companies from the 27 EU Member States, from the candidate (1) and potential candidate countries (2) and from ENP partners themselves and are awarded in line with standard EC procurement rules.
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