Documents considered by the Committee on 21 July 2015 - European Scrutiny Contents

60 Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2014

Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decisionCleared from scrutiny; drawn to the attention of the Foreign Affairs Committee (together with the Joint Consultation Paper — Towards a new European Neighbourhood Policy[ 443])
Document detailsJoint Communication on implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2014 and country reports
Legal base
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Document numbers(36812), 8129/15 + ADDs 1-15, JOIN(15) 9

Summary and Committee's conclusions

60.1 The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was developed in 2004, with the objective of avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and neighbouring countries, and instead strengthen their prosperity, stability and security. It presently involves the EU's 16 closest neighbours — Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine.

60.2 The ENP is chiefly a bilateral policy between the EU and each partner country, complemented by regional and multilateral co-operation initiatives: the Eastern Partnership (launched in Prague in May 2009), the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EUROMED: the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, formerly known as the Barcelona Process, re-launched in Paris in July 2008), and the Black Sea Synergy (launched in Kiev in February 2008).

60.3 The ENP offers the EU's neighbours a privileged relationship, building upon a mutual commitment to common values (democracy and human rights, rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development). The level of ambition of the relationship depends on the extent to which these values are shared. The ENP includes political association and deeper economic integration, increased mobility and more people-to-people contacts. ENP sector policies cover a broad range of issues, including employment and social policy, trade, industrial and competition policy, agriculture and rural development, climate change and environment, energy security, transport, research and innovation, as well as support to health, education, culture and youth.

60.4 The ENP review of 2011 produced a stronger focus on the promotion of deep and sustainable democracy, economic development, and conditionality (the "more for more principle"). Each year, there is an overview, supplemented by an annual progress report on each partner country. The most recent one, entitled Neighbourhood at the Crossroads: Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2013, hinted at the broader, strategic questions that arose from developments over the preceding 12 months, in which the "Arab Spring" was a major factor.[ 444] There have been two subsequent developments.

60.5 First, on 4 March 2015, via a joint press conference, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR; Federica Mogherini) and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, announced the publication of a Joint Consultation Paper — Towards a new European Neighbourhood Policy — and thus launched a further review. The HR noted that the region has changed greatly in the last ten years, and particularly since 2011. The EU needed "to review our policy, our way of working, our partnership with the countries of our region": to move from an approach based on the evaluation of progress to "a more political dialogue, to a more political partnership, to a more cooperation oriented approach between equal partners". In particular, with the region "in flames, both to the East and South", the EU needed "to use all the potential of our bilateral relations with partners in the region to have an effective impact on our region". She and Commissioner Hahn would, in the next months, work together "to have better and more effective instruments to work in our neighbourhood".[ 445]

60.6 Secondly, on 24 April, the Commission published its 2014 Report on implementation of the ENP, along with the customary country reports. The Joint Communication and its accompanying documents assess how the EU and partner countries have progressed in implementing jointly agreed reform objectives, including particular challenges both sides have faced. They are helpfully summarised, and commented upon, in his 15 June 2015 Explanatory Memorandum by the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington). The picture is, as ever, very varied: the Minister's general conclusion is that "the success of the policy is directly dependent on the ability and commitment of governments to reform and to deepen relations with the EU". His comment on the Eastern Partnership report could be applied to a great deal of EU support to ENP and other partners generally — "the report focuses on a lot of the process rather than on the impact of this work. It would benefit from a more critical analysis of why, or why not, programmes have worked and how this learning, and therefore new priorities, will be reflected over the next year (see "Background" below for details).

60.7 The "Background" below also recalls the previous Committee's consideration at its last meeting of what was something of a novelty: a paper designed to launch a widespread consultation exercise on the future shape of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

60.8 This consultation exercise should engage "a wide range of actors" — Member States, ENP partners, parliaments, including the European Parliament, civil society and think tanks, the social partners, business and academic communities, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the major international financing institutions. Although the Commission acknowledged that it had no plans to reach out specifically to EU national parliaments, it indicated that it would nonetheless always welcome any proactive request from a national parliament to discuss the ENP review, be that an invitation to Westminster to give evidence or as part of a Committee's visit to Brussels. With Parliament about to be dissolved, there was no time for the previous Committee to investigate the possibilities further. The previous Committee nonetheless welcomed this. It also recommended that its successor should consider seeking the Opinion of the new Foreign Affairs Committee, should there be time to do so before the end-June consultation deadline.

60.9 In the event, that has not proved possible. We nonetheless draw both these developments to the attention of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and will wish to seek its Opinion in the autumn on the next Joint Communication, following on from the consultation exercise, and proposing the way forward.

60.10 In the meantime, we now clear the Joint Communication and the accompanying country progress reports.

Full details of the documents: Joint Communication on the Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2014 — Statistics, Eastern Partnership Implementation Report and Southern Mediterranean Regional Report and Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean Partners Report; implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Republic of Moldova, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Ukraine — Progress in 2014 and recommendations for action: (36812), 8129/15 + ADDs 1-15, JOIN(15) 9 and SWD(15) 63-77.


60.11 In the introduction to the Joint Consultation Paper, styled "A Special Relationship", the HR says:

"We need a stronger Europe when it comes to foreign policy. With countries in our neighbourhood, we need to step up close cooperation, association and partnership to further strengthen our economic and political ties."

60.12 She also notes that Article 8(1) TEU states that:

"the Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation."

60.13 Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said at the press conference that the consultation needed to look at four key points:

·  increase differentiation: recognise that our partners are very diverse; some want closer integration, some want a different kind of relationship; consider how best to pursue the relationship, perhaps in new formats;

·  ownership: the new ENP must reflect the views and experience of the EU's partners; not be condescending, patronising or preaching; develop a real partnership of equals on the basis of shared interests, while always promoting universal principles;

·  focus: need not cover every sector with every partner: for those that want, and who are able, Association Agreements and DCFTAs; for those who can't, or do not currently want, to engage so deeply, focus on making partnerships more effective. Widen the traditional focus on trade and mobility with a new emphasis on energy security, threats to security from organised crime, the "frozen conflicts"; and

·  greater flexibility: being able to react to changing circumstances, and crises when they arise.

60.14 The HR and Commissioner professed themselves determined to consult as widely as possible, particularly in the partner countries, between then and the end of June — looking for "concrete ideas that will suit us and our partners, and that will deliver results the public can understand". The results of the consultation would contribute to a further Communication in the autumn of 2015, setting out concrete proposals for the future direction of the ENP.

60.15 The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) welcomed publication of the Joint Communication, as an important opportunity to refocus ENP. He favoured "a more flexible, ambitious and effective policy for the region, that is capable of reacting to the problems arising from conflict, and dealing with the question of resilience and stability". He saw the ENP as facing these key challenges:

·  the "one-size-fits-all" approach: the ENP incorporated some differentiation but needed to tailor its objectives, aims and use of instruments for each region, as well as individual countries, even further;

·  low levels of understanding/support: the ENP was complex and technocratic, based largely around binding countries to the EU through international agreements, such as Association Agreements, Strategic Modernisation Partnerships, etc., as a means to deliver change; and

·  how to incentivise reform: the EU quite rightly insisted on substantive political and economic reforms in exchange for access to its markets; but there were questions as to whether the EU had been effective enough in incentivizing the necessary reforms.

60.16 The Minister accordingly agreed broadly with the Joint Consultation Paper's key themes: Differentiation, Focus, Flexibility, Ownership and Visibility. In responding, the UK would focus on:

·  improving differentiation to allow the ENP to adapt to the changing situation in the region;

·  increased flexibility so that resources can be used more effectively;

·  better response to crisis management;

·  more effective strategic communications in the region; and

·  greater bilateral involvement by Member States, to complement EU efforts.[ 446]

The previous Committee's assessment

60.17 Whether or not "our region" was "in flames, both to the East and South", this Joint Consultation Paper was plainly timely. Very large sums of money are involved — the ENP draws its funding primarily from the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), to which over €15 billion (£10.6 billion) has been allocated in the 2014-2020 financial perspective. According to the Commission, in 2011, total trade between the EU and its ENP partners was worth €230 billion (£163.8 billion); the EU issued 3.2 million Schengen visas to ENP partners in 2012; and in 2007-2013, provided partners with over €12 billion (£8.5 billion) in grant money for the implementation of the ENP. As the previous Committee noted when considering the 2013 implementation exercise, it was inconceivable that the EU would not have some such policy: but, at the end of the day, no-one had any real idea of how effective this expenditure of over €12 billion (£8.5 billion) had been.

60.18 The EU was also engaged in other analogous activities, such as the Central Asia Strategy and a prospective regional strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the Da'esh threat.[ 447] So what emerged from this consultation would have major implications for a wide range of other EU activity around the globe, particularly in terms of effectively relating objectives, approach, expenditure and outcomes.

60.19 And, prior to the publication of the results of this consultation exercise, EU leaders were set to return to that most basic of foreign policy issues: defence.[ 448]

60.20 Under "Next Steps", the Joint Consultation Paper aimed "to consult as widely as possible both with partners in the neighbouring countries and with stakeholders across the EU", noting that:

"We will consult with Member States and partners, but also with a wide range of actors from parliaments, including the European Parliament, civil society and think tanks, and from the social partners, business and academic communities. We will engage with key international organisations active in the neighbourhood, including notably the Council of Europe, the OSCE as well as the major international financing institutions."

60.21 The previous Committee noted the Enlargement Commissioner had already engaged in a debate with the European Parliament only five days after publication of the joint consultation paper. However, its understanding was that, beyond that, the reference to consultation with parliaments in the paper referred to parliaments in the partnership countries, including taking a "roadshow" to each one and visits to each country's parliament; and that the Commission had no plans to reach out specifically to EU national parliaments. However, the previous Committee further understood that the Commission would always welcome any proactive request from a national parliament to discuss the ENP review, be that an invitation to Westminster to give evidence or as part of a Committee's visit to Brussels.

60.22 The previous Committee welcomed this. It also recommended that its successor should consider seeking the Opinion of the new Foreign Affairs Committee, should there be time to do so before the end of the consultation period.

60.23 In the meantime, it retained the Joint Consultation Paper under scrutiny, pending receipt of further information from the next Minister for Europe on the outcome of the consultation. In so doing, it noted that, should this is be in the form of a further depositable document, it would expect a timely Explanatory Memorandum in the usual way; and that, if for whatever reason it was in another format, then it relied upon him to provide a full and timely summary, with his or her assessment and views thereon.

The 2014 Implementation Report

60.24 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 15 June 2015, the Minister for Europe notes that developments in 2014 — both positive and negative — underlined that the success of the policy is directly dependent on the ability and commitment of governments to reform and to deepen relations with the EU.

60.25 The Minister explains that, to support the Communication, the EEAS and Commission have produced two regional reports assessing the Eastern and Southern regional elements of the ENP, which are helpfully summarised thus (his comments being in italics):


"The Communication on the Southern Neighbourhood rightly notes that parts of the region continue to be affected by severe political, economic and humanitarian crises, armed conflict and a significant deterioration in security. It correctly adds that implementation of reforms and regional integration are proving difficult.

"The report outlines EU institutions' efforts to encourage cooperation within the region through EU work with regional bodies, including the Union for the Mediterranean, the 5+5 Dialogue, the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). It gives a summary of the EU's counter-terrorism work in the region and the three CSDP missions with mandates in the region. It then summarises regional trends and the EU's programmatic and other assistance in five main areas: human rights and democracy; civil society; economic development, trade and investment; migration; and sector-specific cooperation (such as science and education).

"It records which countries were allocated 'top-up' funding under the more-for-more mechanism, under which some European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) funds are allocated according to progress with governance and economic reforms. In 2014 in the South these 'top-up' allocations went to Tunisia (€50m), Morocco (€20m), Jordan (€15m) and Lebanon (€15m).

The UK broadly supports these areas of work. We have encouraged the EU to keep seeking to measure the impact of its programmes, and for regional-level programmes to consider how they add value to country-level support. As part of the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, we are encouraging more flexibility to allocate and re-allocate resources to evolving priorities and for more of a contribution from the ENP to resolving conflict.


"The EaP report begins by explaining the Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative and then it outlines the key progress made over the course of 2014. It correctly highlights the achievements over this period including the signing and provisional application of the new EU Association Agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and the provisional application of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with Georgia and Moldova. The report also explores the important support that the EU has given to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in light of increased pressure on them following their decision to sign these Association Agreement. It then goes on to analyse progress in the key priority areas for the EU bilateral elements of the EaP: political association and economic integration; justice, freedom and security issues, migration and mobility; and sector cooperation. The progress in multilateral cooperation along the key platforms of democracy, good governance and stability; economic integration and convergence with EU sector policies; energy security; and people-to-people contacts are then analysed, followed by an update on flagship initiatives and the EaP visibility work.

"On political association and economic integration the report highlights the signature of the Association Agreements and the DCFTAs. It sets out the 'scoping exercise' to identify the legal basis for future EU-Armenia relations; the development of a Strategic Modernisation Partnership with Azerbaijan and the continued policy of critical engagement towards Belarus. It then discusses the work of the human rights dialogues. However, this section talks about the process of this work rather than assessing the impact that it has had. The report then notes the macro financial assistance (MFA) to Ukraine along with the financial assistance provided to partners under the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), as well as looking at CSDP cooperation and larger economic trends."

"The report goes into some detail on sector cooperation, covering SMEs, regional development, agriculture, energy, transport, environment, climate action, education, youth and culture, knowledge and innovation, fisheries, statistics and EU programmes and agencies. This section gives a useful overview of how wide ranging and in-depth the EU's relationship and engagement with partner countries is. In the section on transport the report highlights the initialling of the comprehensive air services agreement between the EU and Ukraine which is pending signature. This delay is due to Spain refusing to sign the agreement because it extends to Gibraltar, the UK continues to defend Gibraltar's inclusion in this agreement and to highlight Spanish intransigency on the issue.

"The report ends with a lengthy section on the multilateral elements of the EaP, which are arranged through four thematic 'platforms': democracy, good governance and stability; economic integration and convergence with EU sector policies; energy security; and people-to-people contacts. In these platforms, which are further divided into panels in some areas, the partners are able to come together and meet experts from Member States as well as exchange best practices with each other on matters of mutual interest. The report then looks at the progress of flagship initiatives as well as relationships with stakeholders including international financial institutions and other stakeholders such as the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly. Finally it finishes with a section on the EaP visibility.

"However, the report misses the crucial point that the aim is not to simply make the EaP more visible per se but more strategic and meaningful so that citizens of partner countries can understand what the work, and values, of the EU actually mean for them in a tangible way.

"Overall the report is an accurate reflection of the EaP activities in the region, especially when read in conjunction with the Country progress reports. However, the report focuses on a lot of the process rather than on the impact of this work. It would benefit from a more critical analysis of why, or why not, programmes have worked and how this learning, and therefore new priorities, will be reflected over the next year."

60.26 The Minister then summarises and comments on the individual country reports as follows:


"Armenia signed the Accession Treaty to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in October 2014. In preparation for signing the treaty it implemented a roadmap with administrative and legislative measures in 20 areas of government policy. As a consequence of Armenia's decision to join the EEU, the previously negotiated Association Agreement with the EU was not initialled. However Armenia and the EU continued their political and trade dialogue in 2014, in areas where this was compatible with Armenia's new international EEU obligations. In November 2014 the EU and Armenia launched a scoping exercise on possible areas of cooperation for future relations. The EU-Armenia Visa-Facilitation and Readmission Agreements came into force in January 2014. The UK did not opt in to either agreement.

"Armenia adopted a Human Rights Action Plan in February 2014, which was an important step. However there are still areas where more needs to be done, such as the introduction of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. Ensuring implementation and enforcement of legislation is also necessary. There are several reforms which have remained stuck at the drafting stage and shortcomings stated in previous progress reports, such as the lack of trust in the judicial system and the fight against corruption persisted.

"While there were notable meetings between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, in Sochi, Paris and at the NATO Summit in Wales, there was little progress on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Despite the work of the OSCE Minsk Group, which we fully support, 2014 saw the largest number of casualties in the conflict since the 1994 ceasefire. Despite Foreign Minister Nalbandian's attendance at President Erdogan's swearing-in ceremony in August 2014, there was no real progress in relations between Turkey and Armenia

"Ahead of the parliamentary elections in 2017, it is important for Armenia to implement their ODIHR recommendations, and to tackle the lack of trust in the electoral system.


"There were no significant developments in 2014 regarding negotiations with Azerbaijan on a Strategic Modernisation Partnership with the EU. However there was good progress on the EU's Strategic Energy Partnership with Azerbaijan to improve European energy security and the diversification of energy supplies. The commitment to implementing the Southern Gas Corridor continued to be of utmost importance for EU-Azerbaijan dialogue. There was also tangible progress with regard to several bilateral agreements, such as the entry into force of the Visa Facilitation Agreement and the Readmission Agreement and the preparation to implement the Mobility Partnership.

"Azerbaijan held the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers in the Council of Europe between May and November. However at the same time, they introduced restrictive legislation for NGOs, further decreasing the space for civil society. The human rights situation deteriorated further with a number of prominent human rights defenders detained, and there was no progress on judicial independence.

"While there were notable meetings between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, in Sochi, Paris and at the NATO Summit in Wales, there was little progress on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Despite the work of the OSCE Minsk Group, which we fully support, 2014 saw the largest number of casualties in the conflict since the 1994 ceasefire.

"In the coming year, it is recommended that Azerbaijan respects its commitments as a member of the Council of Europe, particularly with regards to implementation of rulings by the European Court of Human Rights. It is also important to create a more conducive political environment for civil society, in particular making the related legal framework less restrictive, allowing civil society organisations to carry out their activities.


"Following political upheaval in 2013, formal EU-Egypt dialogue on the ENP remained de facto suspended and the action plan was extended until March 2015, pending negotiation (started in 2014) of a new action plan. The EU continued its outreach activities including visits by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the EU Special representative for Human Rights, an Experts Electoral Mission and a Election Observation Mission for the constitutional and presidential elections respectively.

"The report notes that 2014 was marked by political, security and economic challenges and Egypt made limited progress in implementing the action plan. The political transition continued to unfold and important steps in the transitional roadmap were achieved. It notes limited progress in the areas of democratic governance and human rights. Freedom of association and assembly were restricted and there was less space for the activities of civil society. It also notes the economic situation remained difficult, but reforms to the subsidy system are underway and an article IV consultation of the International Monetary Fund took place in November. The report also notes the difficult regional and internal security context Egypt faced during 2014, including from Ansar Beit al- Maqdis who pledged allegiance to ISIL.

"The report recommends that Egypt improve in the following key areas: fully enacting and implementing the 2014 constitution — particularly to ensure the rule of law and improve human rights and fundamental freedoms; complete the 2013 transitional roadmap by organising genuine democratic parliamentary elections so that parliament can enact legislation, amending the law on assembly, creating conditions for an active and independent civil society, reapplying a moratorium on the death penalty, applying due legal process and ensure prisons conditions comply with international standards, ending the practice of military courts judging civilians, investigating cases of alleged violence and protecting women's rights and gender equality, ensuring the right of asylum is in line with international law, taking steps to ensure macroeconomic stability and ensuring a social safety net system protects the most vulnerable.

"We agree that Egypt's long-term security and prosperity depends on growing real democratic reforms through for example, accountability through elections, civil society, and media debate, release of journalists and non-violent activists and the protection of citizens rights to play their part [in] Egypt's future.


"Georgia made further progress in 2014 in implementing the ENP Action Plan and the Association Agenda with notable achievements in the areas of human rights and fundamental freedoms and in the visa liberalisation process. Constitutional reforms were initiated with some progress in the fight against corruption. Anti-discrimination legislation was adopted and cooperation with civil society continued. Georgia and the EU signed the Association Agreement (AA), including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) on 27 June 2014 which was provisionally applied on 1 September. Georgia ratified the AA on 18 July; the UK did so on 8 April 2015. The AA/DCFTA provides a set of priorities for Georgia to take forward in order to move closer to EU standards and norms.

"The EUs Special Adviser on Constitutional Legal Reforms and Human Rights in Georgia, Thomas Hammerburg concluded his mandate in 2014 and issued recommendations for introducing effective checks and balances into the political/constitutional system. A National Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan were adopted and the prison system and protection of children's rights improved.

"Local elections in June and July 2014 were considered to have generally complied with international standards although freedom of assembly and association were not fully ensured during the election campaign. The role of Parliament was strengthened and the power of the President reduced; however tensions were apparent between the Prime Minister and President without clear clarification of their respective responsibilities. Institutional reform of the Prosecutor's Office is an urgent issue to address and judicial independence remains fragile. Continued implementation of the recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR Trial Monitoring Report would allow for significant progress to be made in reform of the judicial system. The report could also include reference of the need for reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to encourage transparency and better regulation there.

"Developments in Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia were of increasing concern. The signature of a 'Treaty on Alliance and Strategic Partnership' between the Russian Federation and Abkhazia and negotiation of a similar agreement with South Ossetia was severely criticised by Georgia as a breach of its territorial integrity. 'Borderisation', the construction of fences and other obstacles on the administrative boundary line continued.

"In the coming year, the report recommends that Georgia makes progress on a range of ongoing legislative, judicial and legal reforms; participate constructively in the Geneva International Discussions on the breakaway regions and continue with work to implement the provisions of the AA/DCFTA.


"We broadly agree with the report's assessment of developments in 2014. Despite differences on some issues, EU-Israel relations continued to develop over 2014. There were a number of high-level political visits, regular technical-level meetings of bilateral subcommittees and visits by senior officials and technical discussions through the Twinning and TAIEX instruments. Developments on the Action Plan continue to be positive.

"Whilst the report also gives a good summary of the remaining areas of challenge, we would wish to see further focus on the serious EU concerns about the conduct of the occupation and concerns in relation to Israel's responsibilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We would wish to see greater focus on issues such as increased demolitions (and confiscation of humanitarian assistance including EU funded assistance); the reintroduction of punitive demolitions; and the continued severe restrictions of exports/transfers of goods from Gaza to Israel and the West Bank.


"We consider the report to be generally accurate and to reflect the challenges Jordan faced in 2014, in particular the continuing impact of the Syria crisis and from the growing threat of Da'esh.

"Jordan has shown great resilience in the face of these challenges, including dealing with a huge influx of refugees (currently over 620,000) from Syria. This has exerted enormous pressure on services leading to tension with host communities. The report does not mention the periodic closing of the border by the Government of Jordan and the resulting build up of refugees left stranded on the other side. During the reporting period Jordan has also played an active role in the international anti-ISIL coalition.

"As the report sets out, EU-Jordan cooperation continued to be strong with the EU having provided more than €300k to support Jordan since the start of the Syria crisis. In October 2014 the EU and Jordan agreed at the Association Council to start a regular security dialogue to identify ways to strengthen cooperation on counter terrorism. In the same month a joint declaration establishing a Mobility Partnership between the EU, participating Member States, and Jordan was signed. Also at the Association Council the EU and Jordan agreed that given the dramatic change in regional context it was time to assess future EU-Jordan relations and agree a new action plan.

"We agree with the recommendations in the report on further political reform. It is important that Jordan continues to act upon the key recommendations of the 2013 EU Election Observation Mission report. We agree that the cancellation of the de facto moratorium on the death penalty with the execution of 11 prisoners was a major setback. The report also does not give enough prominence to the deteriorating conditions for Freedom of Expression in Jordan which is deeply concerning for the future political trajectory of the country. We suggested that the report includes a specific recommendation for Jordan to take steps to address this decline, but it was not included in the final report. We also disagree with the report's judgement on economic progress which we felt was overly optimistic given there has not been substantial progress towards IMF programme goals.


"We consider the report on Lebanon to be accurate and support the recommendations. We agree with the report's assessment on Lebanon's resilience in the face of enormous challenges. These include dealing with overspill from the Syria conflict, and internal pressures including a sustained presidential vacuum; and the subsequent impact on democratic processes. The report highlights the fact that in hosting nearly 1.2 million refugees from the Syria crisis, Lebanon is home to the largest per capita population of refugees in the world. This is having an enormous impact on service delivery and Lebanon's delicate social balance.

"The EU continued to strengthen its relationship with Lebanon during 2014. The EU is a founder member of the International Support Group for Lebanon which helped coordinate international efforts towards Lebanon during the year. In November the launch of the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan was a welcome step to ensuring a more coherent and effective approach for channelling donor contributions in 2015.

"Overall we agree with the report's recommendations. As the report highlights Lebanon has been without a President since May 2014 which is limiting the effective function of the Government. The report correctly recommends that electing a President and restoring the functions of institutions is a priority for Lebanon. We would flag though the need for urgent action to address concerns raised by the 2014 Convention Against Torture (CAT) report which highlighted that torture was a pervasive practice within Lebanon routinely used by the security services.


"2014 was an important year for the EU's relationship with Moldova. On 27 June 2014, Moldova and the EU signed the Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (Association Agreement/Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area); and from 28 April 2014 Moldovan citizens who hold a biometric passport were able to travel to the Schengen area visa-free for short stays not exceeding 90 days in any 180 day period. Around 360,000 people took advantage of this opportunity in 2014.

"Parliamentary elections were held on 30 November 2014. These elections were generally well administered, although the late deregistration of the Patria Party raised questions about timing and circumstances. The OSCE/ODIHR-led international monitoring mission found that 'the elections offered voters a wide choice of political alternatives' and the technical conduct of the elections was 'in line with international standards and norms'. The results election reflected the plurality of and divisions in Moldovan society with votes divided between pro-European and pro-Russian parties.

"Some important benchmarks for the 2011-16 Justice Sector Reform Strategy had been implemented, by the end of 2014 but as in previous years, corruption remains a major issue. Reform of the Public Prosecutor's office has stalled and the package of Anti-Corruption laws is at risk of being declared unconstitutional in the Constitutional Court.

"Moldova's economy was put under pressure in 2014 by trade embargoes imposed on Moldova exports by the Russian Federation. This was further compounded by the situation in Ukraine. As a result, after impressive growth in 2013, GDP growth slowed down in the first half of 2014. EU trade represented 53.2% of total exports and 48.2% of total Moldovan imports.

"The fragility of Moldova's banking sector was exposed in 2014. The National Bank of Moldova placed three commercial banks under special administration which represented about 30% of total banking assets (Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala and Unibank). The previous IMF programme ended in April 2014 and no new agreement was concluded for the remainder of 2014.

"On the Transnistria protracted conflict, formal 5+2 settlement talks stalled in 2014 with only two rounds of negotiations in the '5+2' format taking place and several rounds being postponed.


"The UK agrees with the EU's overall assessment and recommendations. Morocco has continued to pursue a number of welcome reforms, including on migration and asylum, OPCAT ratification and budget transparency. Additional new laws needed to implement the 2011 Constitution, including on justice, regionalisation and right to petition, remain in the pipe-line. It will be important to ensure the new laws reflect fully the democratic principles of the 2011 Constitution. The UK shares the EU's concern over Access to Information and anti-corruption draft laws in terms of their alignment with international practice.

"On the economic front, Morocco has pursued sound macroeconomic policies and continued to implement a substantive reform of its subsidy system. As the EU highlights, it will be important to ensure this is complemented by targeted support and the provision of safety nets for the poorest. High youth unemployment remains a concern and we look forward to the Government's new employment strategy, which the EU has pledged to support. We continue to encourage further progress in the negotiations towards a DCFTA, and look forward to Morocco finalising its impact studies on the issue so that talks can resume.


"We agree with the overall report. Throughout 2014, the EU and the UK supported the US led push for a comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; we were disappointed that greater progress was not made. The humanitarian situation in Gaza deteriorated significantly — the summer conflict took a terrible toll. The EU and the UK responded generously and support continues to be vital to reconstruction efforts. The EU's role as a major donor of the Palestinian Authority (PA) also continued.

"The PA continued to implement reforms in many areas of the Action Plan, however, we agree that there is still significant work to be done. It is worth noting that in a number of areas where the report highlights the need for progress, the PA has limited control. The Israeli occupation also continues to hinder the PA's ability to deliver services to the Palestinian people in many areas and to implement reforms. The lack of progress in reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas continues to hinder the PA's ability to implement reforms. We also judge the lack of PA involvement in Gaza has been a contribution to the slow pace of reconstruction — along with severe restrictions on movement and access; a lack of a durable ceasefire; and international donors failing to make good the pledges made at the Reconstruction Conference held in Cairo.

"We agree with the assessment that some serious human rights concerns remain although there has been progress towards improving human rights, accountability and transparency in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We were disappointed that there was not greater progress on reform of the security sector.

"The UK continues to provide practical support to facilitate the continued professionalisation of the Palestinian Security Forces in line with international standards, including work to help protect human rights, uphold the rule of law, and support female victims of violence.


"The report notes that 2014 was a year of significant political progress in Tunisia. It began with the adoption of a new Constitution and ended with the holding of transparent and credible Presidential and Parliamentary elections, the results of which were quickly accepted by political parties and the electorate. The report highlights the success of the independent electoral authority, ISIE, in organising elections in a tight timeframe.

"It identifies the two main challenges to Tunisia's stability: the economy, which, despite progress in some areas, continues to suffer significant problems; and security, with security forces targeted by extremist groups throughout the year. The report points to the threat to Tunisia's security caused by the deterioration in 2014 in the situation in Libya and the high number of Tunisians in extremist groups abroad.

"The report lists the priorities for Tunisia for the coming year. On the economy these include putting in place a programme of macro-economic, fiscal and structural reforms, improving the business climate, including by adopting an investment code, and making progress on the DCFTA. On security, it notes that security sector reform should include reform of the police, and border security, and that a new anti-terrorism law should be adopted. Other priorities listed include human rights, judicial issues, and air transport. We agree with these priorities, though if the list is intended to indicate an order of importance we would argue that economic reforms should come before political reforms.

"The report indicates that EU-Tunisia relations have progressed at a steady pace in 2014. We would like to see this accelerate in 2015, not least in light of the Bardo terrorist attack, which highlighted the threat from extremism to Tunisia's political achievements.

"In this context we welcome the EU's stated determination to step up security and counter-terrorism cooperation with Tunisia. We would also wish to see a more measurable evaluation of the effectiveness of the EU's contribution in helping to deliver change.


"The report on Ukraine is detailed and well-balanced, providing a comprehensive report on progress made on implementation of the EU-Ukraine European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan in 2014. Although not a general review of the political and economic situation in Ukraine, the report also sets out important political developments, including the ongoing illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

"The report makes clear that the EU does not, and will not, recognise this annexation and that the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine must be respected. This government remains concerned at the decline of the human rights situation in the areas controlled by Russia or Russian back separatists.

"The report gives detail on political dialogue and reform; economic and social reform; trade-related issues, market and regulatory reform and cooperation on justice; freedom and security; transport, energy, environment, the information society, research and development as well as people to people contacts, education and health. This Government agrees with the report's assessment that in 2014 Ukraine presented a mixed picture of developments on deep and sustainable democratic reform. The report highlights positive developments in the Government of Ukraine's adoption of a number of important legislative reforms on elections, human rights, anti-corruption and decentralisation, noting that some reform had been slower in rule of law elements including the judiciary and the police. The Government of Ukraine must continue to increase the visibility and pace of reforms to build confidence amongst the people of Ukraine and the international community.

"This Government welcomes the ratification of the Association Agreement by the Ukrainian and European Parliaments, and the provisional application of the relevant provisions of this agreement as of November 2014. In the light of Ukraine's deteriorating economic situation, this government welcomes the provisional application of the DCFTA which will come into force on 1 January 2016 as a way of deepening EU-Ukraine trade."

60.27 Looking ahead, the Minister says that, although the Joint Communication will be discussed by the working groups on Eastern Europe and Central Asia (COEST) and Mashrek/Maghreb (MAMA), he does not expect the Council to issue a formal response in the format of Council Conclusions.

Previous Committee Reports

None, but see (36714), —, JOIN(15) 6: Joint Consultation Paper — Towards a new European Neighbourhood Policy: Thirty-ninth Report HC 219-xxxvii (2014-15), chapter 13 (24 March 2015) and (35946), 8595/14 +ADDs 1-15: Forty-eighth Report HC 83-xliii (2013-14), chapter 12 (7 May 2014).

443   See (36714), -, JOIN(15) 6: Joint Consultation Paper - Towards a new European Neighbourhood Policy: Thirty-ninth Report HC 219-xxxvii (2014-15), chapter 13 (24 March 2015). Back

444   For summary details, and the Committee's thoughts thereon see paragraphs 0.22-0.26 of (36714), -, JOIN(15) 6: Joint Consultation Paper - Towards a new European Neighbourhood Policy: Thirty-ninth Report HC 219-xxxvii (2014-15), chapter 13 (24 March 2015); and for full information, (35946), 8595/14 + ADDs 1-15: Forty-eighth Report HC 83-xliii (2013-14), chapter 12 (7 May 2014). Back

445   See Press Release for full details. Back

446   For full details of the Joint Communication and of the then Government's views, see (36714), -, JOIN(15) 6: Joint Consultation Paper - Towards a new European Neighbourhood Policy: Thirty-ninth Report HC 219-xxxvii (2014-15), chapter 13 (24 March 2015). Back

447   See (36664), 6031/15: Thirty-fifth Report HC 219-xxxiv (2014-15), chapter 7 (4 March 2015) for the Committee's consideration thereof. Back

448   See (35696), 17859/13 in the then Committee's Thirty-ninth Report HC 219-xxxvii (2014-15), chapter 19 (24 March 2015) for the Committee's latest consideration of the preparations for the June "defence" European Council. Back

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