Enlarged E.U. defines policies towards its new neighbours

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
May 12, 2004, Wednesday

Enlarged E.U. defines policies towards its new neighbours


The European Commission on Wednesday mapped out a vision of closer
political and economic ties with the European Union’s neighbours in
the east and the south, saying the newly-enlarged 25 member bloc must
be surrounded by a “ring” of stable and prosperous friends.

Countries from Morocco to Ukraine were not eligible for E.U.
membership but could be given a “real stake in the enlarged E.U. so
that they too can develop and prosper,” European Commissioner Gunter
Verheugen told reporters.

“A ring of well-governed countries around the E.U., offering new
perspectives for democracy and economic growth, is in the interests
of Europe as a whole,” Verheugen said.

The Commission – the European Union’s executive arm – said it did not
want the E.U.’s latest expansion to create “new dividing lines” in

Officials said countries eligible to benefit from increased aid,
trade and political links with the E.U. should include Russia,
Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan and

All so-called southern Mediterranean nations, including Israel and
the Palestinian territories, should also become part of the new
neighbourhood policy, they added.

Countries opting to forge closer relations with the E.U. will have to
sign up to joint action plans committing them to democratic and
economic reform as well as respect for human rights.

“The pace at which the E.U. develops links with each partner will
reflect the extent to which these common values are effectively
shared,” the Commission said.

Countries which draw up the action plans will also have to engage in
an intensive political dialogue with the E.U., covering issues such
as the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction as well as efforts to resolve regional conflicts.

If successful, the countries could then enjoy access to the E.U.’s
market of 450 million people, participate in a number of E.U.
programmes in education and training, research and innovation and
achieve improved interconnection and physical links with the E.U. in
the fields of energy, transport, environment and information

Close co-operation will also be demanded in areas like border
management, migration, the fight against terrorism, trafficking in
human beings, drugs and arms, and combating organised crime.

Verheugen insisted that the action plans will be differentiated and
tailor-made to reflect the existing state of relations with each

Once the action plans are implemented, the E.U.’s new neighbours
could sign up to “privileged partnerships” with the bloc, the
Commission said.

The policy will be backed up by an aid package worth 255 million
euros (303 million dollars).

The first wave of countries to join the programme are expected to
include Moldova, Ukraine, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan,
Tunisia and Morocco, with Egypt and Lebanon set to be included in the

The new strategy has to be approved by E.U. governments before it is
implemented by the Commission. dpa si pmc