European Neighbourhood Policy


Fostering close and amicable relations between the EU and its neighbours is a key priority for Germany’s foreign policy.

Ukraine is an ENP-Partner, here the city of Odessa
Ukraine is an ENP-Partner, here the city of Odessa© picture alliance/ZB
The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was developed in 2003 with considerable input from Germany, to promote prosperity, security, stability as well as rule-of-law and democratic structures in the countries bordering on the enlarged EU.

It is geared towards the EU’s immediate neighbours both to the east (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – since 2009 within the scope of the Eastern Partnership) and to the south (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Tunisia).

Promoting reform in Europe’s neighbourhood

The aim is to help partner countries foster stability, modernisation and democratic and rule-of-law reform in particular, as well as to promote dialogue with civil society. To this end, the EU is providing financial backing and encouraging greater economic integration, closer political dialogue, as well as deeper sectoral cooperation with and also among partner countries. Within this framework, the EU has adopted a performance-related approach: countries that have made tangible progress on reform will be able to forge considerably closer ties with the Union.

In the Treaty of Lisbon, the ENP was anchored in primary law for the first time (Art. 8 of the TEU) and assigned to a Commissioner (Commissioner Hahn, since November 2014 Directorate General NEAR). It falls under the remit of the External Action Group (chaired by the High Representative, Federica Mogherinin). The key to the ENP’s success is the enhanced cooperation it offers in advancing reform processes underway in Europe’s neighbourhood.

The European Neighbourhood Policy was last adapted in 2011 in response to the sweeping changes in the Arab world. The idea is that EU support for its neighbours should in future be more closely linked to conditions. The more progress a country makes on reform, the more support it will receive. In addition, enhanced sectoral cooperation is taking place via mobility partnerships. Partner countries are being allowed to participate in EU programmes and cooperate with EU agencies.

Current challenges and the ENP review in 2015

In the ENP Package (consisting of a communication from the Commission and the High Representative on the implementation of the ENP as well as progress reports on individual partner countries) published in March 2014, the Commission and the European External Action Service concluded that the Neighbourhood Policy has produced mixed results in the third year after the ENP was revamped in 2011.

In the light of events in Ukraine, Syria and Libya, as well as the difficult transition processes in other partner countries, the Foreign Ministers of Germany, France and Poland – Frank‑Walter Steinmeier, Laurent Fabius and Radosław Sikorski – initiated a debate on the reform of the ENP with a Weimar declaration on the European Neighbourhood Policy in April 2014. After the new Commission took up office in autumn 2014, Commission President Juncker charged Commissioner Hahn, who is responsible for the Neighbourhood Policy, with putting forward proposals within a year on revamping the ENP. The basis for the ENP review is a Joint Consultation Paper of the European Commission and the European External Action Service of 4 March 2015. The consultation paper is the most important point of reference for the review. It sets out a detailed list of questions in four priority areas (differentiation; focus; flexibility; ownership and visibility), which form the foundation for discussions with stakeholders (including EU member states), and thus defines the framework for a political debate on the future direction of the ENP. The aim is to hold the broadest possible consultation with member states, partners in neighbouring countries and other interested parties throughout the EU, including parliaments, civil society and business, and subsequently carry out the necessary adjustments, thus creating a more strategic ENP. Ordinary citizens can also take part in the ENP review by submitting their own proposals:


Following the Joint Communication of the European Commission and the European External Action Service published on 18 November and the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions in December 2015, the review process is currently drawing to a close.

Implementation and financing of the ENP

In concrete terms, the ENP has been primarily implemented to date via Action Plans for individual ENP partners. The Action Plans are to be replaced in future by agreements which set the partnership priorities. Instead of annual progress reports there are to be individualised reports on the jointly agreed priorities, as well as additional regular reports on the state of fundamental freedoms and human rights.

Until now, the legal prerequisite for such a Plan was the existence of valid partnership and cooperation or association agreements with the EU (no such agreements have been concluded to date with Algeria, Belarus, Libya or Syria). Agreement on new priorities offers new opportunities in cooperation. In the course of 2016, the European Commission and European External Action Service will seek a dialogue with neighbouring countries in order to define future relations on the basis of the recommendations on reform.

The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) is the ENP’s financing instrument. The ENI implements the reorientation of the Neighbourhood Policy of 2011 by making possible a greater degree of differentiation in line with the reform efforts of individual countries and regional needs. It is also used to support regional and cross-border cooperation at the EU’s external borders. A total of 15.58 billion euros have been earmarked for the Eastern Partnership and the southern neighbourhood in the EU budget for 2014‑2020. Greater support is being given to partners striving to build democratic societies and to implement reforms in line with the incentive strategy (more for more) and the principle of mutual accountability. To this end, inter alia, a performance reserve amounting to 10% of the ENI budget is envisaged. The European Commission submits individual programmes and projects to the member states in the ENI Committee for approval.

ENI funding and bilateral contributions from member states also flow into the Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) created in 2008. Grants from the ENI and banking instruments are blended with a view to maximising the impact of European external financing and providing the greatest possible impetus for reform. Germany is a major contributor to the NIF.

Eastern Partnership

The German Government has long been actively engaged in fostering good relations between the EU and its eastern neighbours. This was also an important foreign policy objective of Germany’s EU Presidency in 2007. In response to a Polish-Swedish initiative, the Council resolved in May 2008 to establish an Eastern Partnership as a regional component of the ENP.

This Eastern Partnership was launched at a summit in Prague in May 2009 under the Czech EU Presidency. Further Eastern Partnership summits took place in Warsaw in September 2011, in Vilnius in November 2013 and most recently in Riga in May 2015. At the European Council on 27 June 2014, the EU signed association and free trade agreements with Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.

Cooperation with the Mediterranean region

On France’s initiative, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) was launched in Paris during the French EU Presidency in July 2008. All EU member states, Mediterranean littoral states (except Libya; Syria’s participation has been suspended since 2011), as well as Jordan and Mauritania (43 countries in total) belong to the UfM, which builds on the Barcelona Process initiated in 1995.UfM member states propose broad-based cooperation which is then implemented in the form of concrete projects put forward by civil-society players and supported by the UfM General Secretariat. For instance, the General Secretariat has made available funding from various sources amounting to 500 million euros since 2011, which has been used, for example, to develop cross-border infrastructure or strengthen the economic role of women in the Mediterranean region.

Find out more

To find more information from the European External Action Service (EEAS) on the ENP go to:


To find more information from the European External Action Service (EEAS) on the ENP go to: and to the website of the European Parliament:


ENP documents such as plans of action and progress reports on partner countries can be found at:



Further information on eastern as well as southern partners can be found on the website of the European Parliament:



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