IN THE SPOTLIGHT
EU Foreign Ministers discuss relations with Neighbours
EU Foreign Ministers have agreed on the need to provide “greater support to Neighbourhood Partners engaged in building deep and sustainable democracy, to support inclusive economic development and to strengthen both the Eastern and the Southern dimensions of the ENP, in particular in the areas of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
In the Conclusions adopted at the EU Foreign Affairs Council (June 20), the ministers underline that “stronger political cooperation, closer economic integration and increased EU support will depend on progress towards these reforms” and also invited the High Representative and the Commission “to put forward concrete proposals in support of civil society…”
Recongnising the economic benefits of enhancing trade in goods and services, the Council expressed support to “continuing to pursue such integration through the establishment of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) with ENP partners, as proposed in the Joint Communication, as soon as conditions are met.”
Specifically for the Southern Neighbours, it invited the Commission to submit recommendations for negotiating directives for DCFTAs with selected countries.
The EU foreign ministers also refer to the fact that “well-managed mobility of people is crucial for mutual understanding, business links and economic growth both in the EU and in the partner countries” and invited the Commission “to pursue and intensify work with partners in the field on the basis of the Global Approach to Migration.”
In a reference to the Southern Neighbours, the Council notes “the EU will prepare the launch of negotiations for Mobility Partnerships with Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, as a first group”, as proposed by the Commission in May 2011.
As for the Eastern Neighbours, it says “the EU will seek to conclude Mobility Partnerships with Armenia and will also seek to launch negotiations on visa facilitation agreements in parallel with readmission agreements with Belarus, for the benefit of the population at large, as well as with Armenia and Azerbaijan.” The Council welcomes the entering into force of the visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Georgia and the progress reports on the implementation of the Ukraine and Moldova Visa Liberalisation Action Plans.
Financial support – new instrument
Furthermore, the Foreign Affairs Council underlines that “significantly increased financial support of up to EUR 1.242 billion to address the urgent needs and to respond to the new challenges and transformations underway in the Neighbourhood will be decided in accordance with the normal budgetary procedures and without prejudice notably to the Multiannual Financial Framework.”
It says that in the context of the enhanced approach to the ENP, “the Council looks forward to the Commission proposal to establish under the next multi-annual financial framework a new European Neighbourhood Instrument, which is based on a simplified programming, in increasingly policy driven and provides for increased differentiation on the basis of a ‘more for more’ approach.”
The new instrument, the Conclusions read, will also support regional cooperation and Cross Border Cooperation at the EU external board and in this regard the Council underlines “the importance of flexible mechanisms for effective implementation”.
Eastern Partnership and Union for the Mediterranean
In their Conclusions, the Foreign Ministers invite the High Representative and the Commission to propose a roadmap to guide the further implementation of the Eastern Partnership, drawing on the results of the Summit to be held in September and taking into account the further implementation of flagship initiatives and concrete projects, and including proposals on how to enhance regional cooperation.
With regard to the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council says it should be enhanced to organize effective and result-oriented regional cooperation through concrete projects. It welcomes the nomination of Youssef Amrani as Secretary General and also reiterates its support to the UfM Secretariat.
Finally, the Council welcomed the setting up of the Task Force for the Southern Mediterranean “which will enhance the EU’s efforts to foster coherent international support for the strengthening of democracy and inclusive economic development in the Mediterranean region.” (ENPI Info Centre)