Towards a new European neighbourhood policy

The European Union (EU) has just launched a consultation on the future of its relations with neighbouring countries. A first document will be published in March 2015 and then finalised in the autumn, following partner consultations.  

"We need to rise to the challenges and opportunities, today and tomorrow" explained EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Fédérica Mogherini, at the launch of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) review process. The ENP has €15.4 billion in funding for the period 2014 to 2020. It was designed in 2003 to surround the EU with a circle of friendly States and stabilise its borders. The policy covers Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia to the South and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to the East.

"This review reflects the limits of the current European approach, focused on an extension to the East, where we see the Ukrainian crisis. It raises a fundamental question related to the very definition of Europe: Is it an area which runs from the Atlantic to the Urals or is it a block to rival Russia?" explains Samir Aïta, chair of the Circle of Arab Economists. 

The economist believes that the Mediterranean deserves a different focus. "The forgotten South has been chronically unstable since the Arab uprisings and will soon be home to as many people as Europe. It poses the true challenges to the EU, notably security, immigration and domestic politics."

The last review was carried out in 2011 and this one raises a number of new questions, for example "Can we continue to treat Arab States on an individual basis, distinguishing between hydrocarbon-rich countries on the one h and and populations on the other or should we encourage regional integration?".