The European Neighbourhood Policy

In-Depth Analysis 20-12-2016

Since 2004, the European Neighbourhood Policy has provided a framework for relations between the EU and its 16 geographically closest neighbours. This framework offers enhanced cooperation and access to the European market by means of bilateral action plans leading ultimately to association agreements. It is complemented by three regional initiatives: the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the Black Sea Synergy and the Eastern Partnership. The UfM and the Eastern Partnership are multilateral and involve shared institutions (Euro-Mediterranean Assembly, Euronest, regular summits). The major geopolitical upheavals brought about by the Arab Spring in the southern Mediterranean since 2011 and by the conflict in Ukraine since 2014 have prompted the EU to overhaul what it is doing in the neighbourhood. That overhaul – and action to put it into practice – must succeed if the EU is to assert itself as an international player. For that reason, in November 2015 the Commission and the European External Action Service published a communication on reforming the European Neighbourhood Policy.