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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
European Neighbourhood Policy
European Neighbourhood Policy

What is it?

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) governs the EU's relations with 16 of the EU's closest Eastern and Southern Neighbours. To the South: AlgeriaEgyptIsraelJordanLebanonLibyaMoroccoPalestine*, Syria  and Tunisia and to the East: ArmeniaAzerbaijanBelarusGeorgiaMoldova and UkraineRussia takes part in Cross-Border Cooperation activities under the ENP and is not a part of the ENP as such. 

The ENP was launched in 2003 and developed throughout 2004, with the objective of avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours and instead strengthening the prosperity, stability and security of all. It is based on the values of democracy, rule of law and respect of human rights.

The ENP was reviewed in 2011, following the 'Arab Spring' uprisings, and again in 2015. However, given the significant developments in the Neighbourhood since 2011, it became essential to undertake a further  review of the ENP. In this regard, a Joint Communication setting out the main lines of the review of the ENP has been published on 18 November 2015 following a public consultation, involving partner countries, international organisations, social partners, civil society and academia.

Under the revised ENP, stabilisation of the region, in political, economic, and security related terms, is at the heart of the new policy. Moreover, the revised ENP puts a strong emphasis on two principles: a differentiated approach, to respect the different aspirations of our partners and to better answer EU interests and the interests of our partners; and an increased ownership by partner countries and Member States.

The Joint Communication on the “Eastern Partnership policy beyond 2020- Reinforcing Resilience- an Eastern Partnership that delivers for all”, adopted on 18 March 2020, outlines the long-term policy objectives for future cooperation with Eastern Neighbourhood partners. It underlines how to address common challenges and sets out how the EU will work together with the partner countries in different policy areas in the future, with the aim to strengthen resilience, foster sustainable development and deliver concrete benefits to people.

On 9 February 2021, 25 years after the Barcelona Declaration, the European Commission published a Joint Communication with the HRVP “Renewed partnership with Southern Neighbourhood – A new Agenda for the Mediterranean”. Spurring sustainable long-term socio-economic recovery and job creation in the Southern Neighbourhood is a key shared priority and the innovative cornerstone of the new Agenda for the Mediterranean. The new Agenda will guide the future EU cooperation with South Neighbourhood partners.

How is the European Neighbourhood Policy funded?

Over the period 2021-2027, the EU supports implementation of the ENP policy through the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI – Global Europe). The overall allocation for the NDICI – Global Europe is set at EUR 79.462 billion (2021 prices), out of which EUR 19.3 billion are earmarked for the Neighbourhood.

The NDICI – Global Europe instrument is the successor of the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI),  which has been the main financial instrument for implementing the European Neighbourhood Policy over the period 2014-20, with an overall allocation of EUR 15.4 billion. It built on the achievements of the previous European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), which covered the period 2007-2013.

Main priorities for cooperation

The ENP review established revised joint priorities for cooperation. They are better suited to the challenges of our time and adapted to the regions evolutions. In addition to good governance, democracy, rule of law and human rights, three other sets of joint priorities have been identified, each of them covering a wide number of cooperation sectors: 1) economic development for stabilisation; 2) the security dimension and 3) migration and mobility.

Bilateral cooperation

Bilateral cooperation with most Neighbourhood countries is framed by Joint Documents (Partnership Priorities, Association Agendas or equivalent). They are concluded between a partner country, the EU and its Member States, setting the political and economic priorities for cooperation.

Multiannual indicative programmes are strategic documents for the period 2021-27. They set cooperation priorities drawn from the Joint Documents, and they can only be concluded after adoption of Joint documents. When Joint Documents are not established with a partner country, cooperation is based on annual special measures.

Furthermore, neighbourhood countries are eligible to participate in EU programmes, such as Erasmus+ , in line with the NDICI-GE Regulation, through funding from geographic envelopes.

Regional cooperation and cross-border cooperation

In addition to bilateral cooperation, the EU also supports regional cooperation, including regional south and regional east cooperation. Regional cooperation is based on the specific regional strategies such as the Eastern Partnership and the new Agenda for the Mediterranean. The strategic priorities for regional cooperation are further outlined in the regional multiannual indicative programmes. Regional cooperation complements national assistance programmes, addresses regional challenges, promotes cooperation amongst partners and builds bridges.

The EU also supports cross-border cooperation between EU countries and Neighbourhood countries sharing a land border or sea crossing. Cross-border cooperation also covers transnational cooperation over larger transnational territories or around sea basins and interregional cooperation. Aim of CBC programmes is to support sustainable development along the EU’s external borders, reduce differences in living standards and address common challenges across these borders.

Economic and Investment Plan/Neighbourhood Investment Platform

Economic and Investment Plans (EIP) set out substantial investment packages both for the Eastern Neighbourhood and the Southern Neighbourhood to support the post-pandemic long-term socio-economic recovery and to sustainably transform the economies.

The Neighbourhood Investment Platform (NIP) is a mechanism aimed at mobilising funding to finance capital-intensive infrastructure projects in sectors such as transport, energy, environment and social development by pooling EU and the Member States’ funding to leverage loans from European Financial Institutions and contributions from the ENP partner countries themselves.

Civil Society

A key element of the ENP both under bilateral and regional cooperation is to strengthen and promote the role of civil society actors. In particular local civil society organisations, their capacity to engage with public authorities and their enabling environment are being strengthened. In addition to bilateral and regional cooperation implemented mainly through the flagships Civil Society Facilities, the NDICI-GE foresees support to civil society in the region under a thematic programme, the Thematic Programme for Civil Society Organisations.


* This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.