8 Review of the European Neighbourhood
|Committee's decision||Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested and awaited; drawn to the attention of the Foreign Affairs Committee
|Document details||Joint Communication: Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy
|Department||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Document Numbers||(37290), 14315/15 + ADD 1, JOIN(15) 50
Summary and Committee's conclusions
8.1 The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was designed in
2003 and encompasses 16 of the EU's neighbours in two regions
the Eastern Partnership: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus,
Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine; and the Southern Neighbourhood:
Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Occupied
Palestinian Territories, Syria and Tunisia.
8.2 The ENP offers those neighbours a privileged
relationship, offering closer political and economic integration
and 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 what is essentially a bilateral relationship depends on the
extent to which these values are shared in practice.
8.3 Individual country Actions Plans with each
of the partners set out a package of reforms for the next three
to five years.
8.4 The European Neighbourhood Instrument
(ENI), with a budget of 15.4 billion (£11.06
billion) for the period 2014-20, is the main financial instrument
for implementing the ENP.
8.5 In March 2015, having announced "a fundamental
review" of the ENP's principles and scope, and how its instruments
should be used, the Commission and European External Action Service
(EEAS) launched a formal consultation, with view to engaging with
a range of stakeholders, including Member States, partner countries,
national parliaments, NGOs, universities and think-tanks.
The outcome this Joint Communication was published
8.6 Introducing the Review on 18 November 2015,
EU High Representative/Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini
described "a stronger partnership with our neighbours"
as key for the European Union, in order to build together a safer
environment, try to solve the many crises in "our common
region", support the development and the growth of the poorest
areas, and address the root causes of migration. The ENP would
engage partners in increased cooperation in security matters and
find ways to strengthen together the resilience of the EU's and
its partners' societies, and the ability to work effectively together
on common purposes. At the same time, the Commissioner for
ENP and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn described
the most pressing challenge as "the stabilisation of our
neighbourhood"; described conflicts, terrorism and radicalisation,
poverty, corruption and poor governance as sources of insecurity;
and said that the EU's relations with its ENP partners would be
refocused where necessary on those genuinely shared common interests,
with economic development in particular, and a major focus on
youth employment and skills, being key (see our previous Report
8.7 Given the dramatic changes in the Southern
Neighbourhood particularly since 2011, the Minister for Europe
(Mr David Lidington) told us he fully supported "a recalibrating
of the ENP's policies and operating processes to reflect both
the changed needs of the region and the interests of EU Member
States". The main tool which he supported
would continue to be Association Agreements (AAs) including Deep
and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs); currently only Georgia,
Moldova and Ukraine had taken up the opportunity; the key priority
was full and effective implementation. For partners not currently
interested in a DCFTA, the Minister welcomed a more flexible approach
to strengthen trade and investment relations that reflects mutual
interests, and the continued use of the multilateral framework
to offer cooperation on regional issues.
8.8 The Review had correctly identified stabilisation
as a key priority. The Minister welcomed the addition of a security
dimension, it being "essential that the EU takes a holistic
approach to its neighbourhood, with security being a vital part
of its stability". The priorities highlighted in the review
"a broad spectrum
from counter terrorism and
crisis management to security sector reform" were
the right ones.
8.9 At the same time, the Minister was also pleased
to note that, in parallel, the EU would "continue to pursue
promotion of universal values, including democracy, human rights
and the rule of law in these countries".
8.10 The Minister also welcomed the highlighting
of the socio-economic issues that underlay "the problems
currently besetting the region extremism, terrorism, migration"
and "the renewed focus on economic development, job
creation and the empowerment of women". The consultation
exercise had endorse the EU's key role in ensuring that partner
countries were stable and, to that end, economic and social development
needed to be factored into the EU's approach. The EU should also
be active in areas such as capacity building, modernisation of
the economy and fostering innovation.
8.11 Turning to Migration and Mobility, the Minister
"We support the view of many other Member States
that decisions on legal migration fall within Member State competence.
The UK's legal migration routes for economic migrants are demand-led
and are intended to ensure the UK attracts those it needs to support
8.12 Nonetheless, the EU needed "a more
integrated and comprehensive migration response, linking short-term
humanitarian measures with longer-term development and security
responses", and "should help ENP partners develop their
asylum and protection procedures, especially to protect vulnerable
refugees and meet their basic needs (including through both new
and existing capacity building programmes in North Africa, the
Horn of Africa, and the Middle East).
8.13 The Minister also strongly supported "the
assertion that the EU and ENP will work on addressing the root
causes of illegal migration", with work to be conducted on
better returns and readmission processes, ensuring that EU (and
ENP) nations can return those individuals not in need of international
protection to their countries of origin, where those persons can
be reintegrated; thus "[r]eadmission will have a central
place in all dialogues with countries of origin and transit of
8.14 The Minister was likewise "supportive
of any EU efforts made to strengthen the security of the EU external
border", noting that "the EU, including through FRONTEX
and EUROPOL, will work with 'interested partner countries' on
training and capacity building, leading to better information
exchange, capacity, and operational and technical cooperation
on border management".
8.15 All in all, the Minister said, given the
"vastly differing" political and security situations
in the eastern and southern neighbourhood, "tailor-made,
differentiated partnerships are essential to their success".
The Review "align[ed] with UK strategic policy objectives";
the "key now" was:
"shaping the architecture of implementing this
Review to maximise the impact of this work and make real changes
to the prosperity and security of our neighbourhood and ultimately
the lives of citizens in Partner countries."
8.16 We noted that in response interventions
during her 18 November 2015 meeting with the European Parliament's
Foreign Affairs Committee on the Review, the HR had said that
the Commission's first year had been one of "crisis management",
with security and migration the most pressing challenges. However,
whether, as she felt, the EU and its neighbours were on the same
page on both issues, remained to be seen. We considered that the
Minister had also rightly raised caveats about EU over-ambition
on the migration front.
8.17 Nonetheless, the Review was undoubtedly
timely. The much-criticised "technocratic" approach
of the first decade had clearly been overtaken by the varied responses
thus far of "partners" in the "neighbourhood"
and "events". "Shared values" remained on
the agenda, and help would continue to be given to those who were
seeking to promote and develop a democratic, law-based polity.
But pragmatism and variable geometry "tailor-made,
differentiated partnerships" were now fully part
of the European Neighbourhood Policy fabric, with security, migration
and economic development front and centre.
8.18 However, as the Minister said, "implementation
would be "key", so as "to maximise the impact
[and] make real changes to the prosperity and security of our
[and] the lives of citizens in Partner countries".
It was thus odd that, while jettisoning the customary annual country
reports, no clear alternative was provided for assessing impact.
The 2014-20 budget was large 15.4 billion (£11.06
billion) of EU taxpayers' money.
The Commission and the EAS needed regularly to account for their
performance, especially given what the Minister had said before
about the failings of the present reporting system (c.f. paragraph
7.29 of our previous Report) and what he said now about their
failings in coordinating with other actors in this area. We therefore
asked the Minister:
explain how the performance of partner countries and of the Commission\EAS
was to be assessed in the absence of annual progress reports (noting
that such reports continued to be central to the not-dissimilar
· to indicate
as the Commission/EAS took the Review forward in consultation
with partner countries and Member States whether, and
when, there would be further opportunities to take stock; and
· when he forwarded
to us the Council Conclusions that he expected from the December
Foreign Affairs Council, to explain how they would drive the European
Neighbourhood Policy forward in the right way.
8.19 In the meantime, we retained the Joint Communication
8.20 We also drew these developments to the attention
of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
8.21 On the question about how the performance
of partner countries and of the Commission\European External Action
Service is to be assessed in the absence of annual country
reports, the Minister says that it is right that the reporting
arrangements should also be revised to support this less bureaucratic
and more results-oriented approach, and timed to provide the basis
for political discussion in the relevant high-level meetings with
partner countries, such as Association or Cooperation Councils.
But "regular reporting on progress will remain a crucial
part of the management of the ENP", and should provide Member
States "with assurance that the policy objectives set by
the Council are properly delivered, and that programmes are implemented
effectively". He and his officials "will remain seized
of this", and "continue to press the case with the EEAS
and Commission for regular and appropriate reporting on performance
under the ENP".
8.22 We find this response unconvincing, as
it leaves us unclear as to precisely what the new arrangements
are going to be. Moreover unlike the annual enlargement
package and its country progress reports as well as reporting
and assessment becoming irregular, it seems that no role is any
longer envisaged for parliamentary scrutiny.
8.23 Regarding whether, and when, there
would be further opportunities to take stock, the Minister
says that the Council and Member States will "continue to
have an important role in identifying priorities under the ENP
and in supporting their delivery", and that he is "confident
that there will be opportunities during 2016 to take stock of
the implementation of the Review, in the Council's preparatory
bodies and at Council as appropriate". Again, there is no
mention of parliamentary scrutiny in this formulation. Such scrutiny
is vitally important.
8.24 Finally, the Minister says that the
December Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions for the Review of
"good language on differentiation, trade, security and flexibility
to deal with the challenges of the neighbourhood";
"make clear that the Review should
feed in to the development of wider EU policy, including the Global
Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy"; and
"also importantly support increased
flexibility of existing financial instruments in order to improve
the EU's capability to respond flexibly to crisis situations."
8.25 From our perspective, what matters most
is that the second tiret further underlines the need for the Global
Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy the first such
revision since 2003 to be deposited for scrutiny prior
to any decisions thereon by the Council or its preparatory bodies.
This document, which is being prepared by the HR/VP for the June
"Defence" European Council, is due to emerge in the
spring. We ask the Minister to confirm that it will be deposited
in the way in which we have, reasonably, requested.
8.26 Looking slightly further ahead, the Minister
undertakes, "in the first half of 2016", to provide
"an update on how the new European Neighbourhood Policy is
working in practice". When he does so, we should be grateful
if he would then explain how parliamentary scrutiny of the ENP
process is to be maintained.
8.27 In the meantime, we shall retain the
Joint Communication under scrutiny.
8.28 We also again draw these developments
to the attention of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Full details of
the documents: Joint
Communication: Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy:
(37290), 14315/15 + ADD 1, JOIN(15) 50.
8.29 The full background is set out in the previous
Reports cited below.
The Minister's letter of 15 December 2015
8.30 The Minister writes about annual reporting,
future opportunities to take stock of the implementation of the
Review and how the Council Conclusions on the Review would drive
the ENP forward in the right way, as follows:
"While there will no longer be a single set
of annual progress reports on all countries published simultaneously,
regular reporting on progress will remain a crucial part of the
management of the ENP. It is right that as the EU seeks to establish
more effective relationships with ENP partner countries, based
more clearly on a prioritised set of shared interests, the reporting
arrangements are also revised to support this less bureaucratic
and more results-oriented approach. We support the idea that these
reports should be timed to provide the basis for political discussion
in the relevant high-level meetings with partner countries, such
as Association or Cooperation Councils. I remain of the firm view
that reporting by the EEAS and Commission should provide Member
States with assurance that the policy objectives set by the Council
are properly delivered, and that programmes are implemented effectively.
My officials and I remain seized of this, and will continue to
press the case with the EEAS and Commission for regular and appropriate
reporting on performance under the ENP.
"The review makes clear that the Council and
Member States continue to have an important role in identifying
priorities under the ENP and in supporting their delivery. While
dates have not yet been set, I am confident that there will be
opportunities during 2016 to take stock of the implementation
of the review, in the Council's preparatory bodies and at Council
"I have attached the December Foreign Affairs
Council Conclusions for the Review of the ENP
The Conclusions provide good language on differentiation, trade,
security and flexibility to deal with the challenges of the neighbourhood.
The Conclusions make clear that the Review should feed in to the
development of wider EU policy, including the Global Strategy
on Foreign and Security Policy. The Conclusions also importantly
support increased flexibility of existing financial instruments
in order to improve the EU's capability to respond flexibly to
8.31 The Minister concludes by undertaking to
provide an update on "how the new European Neighbourhood
Policy is working in practice" in the first half of 2016.
Previous Committee Reports
Eleventh Report HC 342-xi (2015-16), chapter 7 (2
December 2015); also see (36714), : Thirty-ninth Report
HC 219-xxxvii (2014-15), chapter 13 (24 March 2015) and (36812),
8129/15 + ADDs 1-15: First Report HC 342-i (2015-16), chapter 60
(21 July 2015).
63 See European Neighbourhood Policy for full details. Back
See the Committee's consideration of the Joint Consultation, (36714),
-: Thirty-ninth Report HC 219-xxxvii (2014-15), chapter 13 (24
March 2015). Back
See Eleventh Report HC 342-xi (2015-16), chapter 7 (2 December
See our previous Report for the Minister's full analysis and comments. Back
1 = £0.704. Back
Eleventh Report HC 342-xi (2015-16), chapter 7 (2 December 2015). Back
Reproduced at the Annex to this chapter of our Report. Back
Also see the Minister's Explanatory Memorandum of 26 November
Reproduced at the Annex to this chapter of our Report. Back