After twelve new Member-States have joined the EU during the past years, Europe has slightly passed over the fact that ist must also structure and develop further its relations to the countries beyond its borders – in the South as well as in the North and East.
Therefore, Germany, during its EU Presidency, has kick-started the process to substantially strengthen the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Concrete steps have been launched to promote democracy and modernization in the EU's neighbourhood and further intensify cooperation between ENP countries and the EU. The Presidency Report on the ENP, endorsed by the European Council on 21-22 June, takes stock of what has been achieved and outlines goals and steps to be taken in the future. The report can be consulted here.
The ENP plays an important role in helping promote stability, security and prosperity in the EU's neighbourhood. To make the ENP even more effective and attractive, the EU plans to take further major steps in the economic, financial and political spheres. We want to keep working at intensifying economic cooperation with the ENP partners. A particular focus here is on energy policy and improving investment conditions. The aim is to conclude new and comprehensive free trade agreements. Enhanced cooperation in the sphere of justice and home affairs aims on the one hand to consolidate rule-of-law principles in the still young countries in transition in eastern Europe, yet on the other to serve the EU's own security interests. The EU also plans to launch new financing mechanisms to support reforms. Finally we want to focus more on civil society exchange with ENP partner countries.
On Germany's initiative, the development of an enhanced EU policy towards the Black Sea region was also launched as a regional element in the ENP framework. This region is not just a strategically crucial transit corridor, inter alia for energy, rather also has untapped economic potential, for example in the transport sector. Moreover the Black Sea countries, to which the EU itself now belongs following the accession of Romania and Bulgaria, face challenges such as organized crime, illegal migration and environmental pollution to which we can only rise together. By strengthening regional cooperation in the Black Sea region and intensifying cooperation with it, the EU also hopes to create positive momentum to help resolve the frozen conflicts in the Republic of Moldova and in the southern Caucasus.