Swedish Institute for Intl Affairs & the Euro Commish Rep in Sweden

EUROPA (press release), Belgium
March 7 2006

Benita Ferrero-Waldner
European Commissioner for External Relations and European
Neighbourhood Policy
European Neighbourhood Policy
Swedish Institute for International Affairs and the European
Commission Representation in Sweden
Stockholm, 7 March 2006

Reference: SPEECH/06/149 Date: 07/03/2006

SPEECH/06/149

Swedish Institute for International Affairs and the European
Commission Representation in Sweden
Stockholm, 7 March 2006

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First let me thank Mr Anders Hellner and the Swedish Institute of
International Affairs for co-hosting this seminar with the Commission
in Sweden.

I am very happy to be here today in this beautiful city, on my first
visit to Sweden as Commissioner for External Relations.

Sweden has always played an important role in promoting international
peace, understanding and solidarity. It has a distinguished record of
statesmen and women of which it is rightly proud, from Raoul
Wallenberg to Dag Hammarskjold, from Olof Palme to Anna Lindh. With
such an international pedigree Sweden clearly makes an enormous
contribution to the EU’s international standing.

Giving the EU a stronger voice in the world is one of the four
priorities of the Barroso Commission, together with prosperity,
solidarity and security. Our most urgent task is to restore dynamic
and sustainable growth in Europe and provide more and better jobs to
Europe’s citizens. All of which requires a strong EU, able to promote
and protect its interests on the international stage.

We are also facing another major challenge – the gap between the EU’s
achievements and the way its citizens perceive it. Across Europe
people are asking what the EU is for, what it is doing to respond to
their concerns and how it will help meet 21st century challenges.

The EU has to deliver results in areas its citizens deem important –
jobs, security, energy and migration.

The stronger we are, the more we can deliver. And by achieving
concrete results we will re-establish confidence in the EU and
demonstrate to our citizens the benefits of European Union in the
21st century.

***

Which brings me to the topic of today’s seminar, the European
Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Many of you here will remember the
genesis of ENP. It’s a policy which has always had strong support
from the Swedish government. Anna Lindh and Leif Pagrotsky were among
its chief proponents.

The EU’s aim is to expand the zone of prosperity, stability and
security beyond our borders. The question is how to use our soft
power to leverage the kinds of reforms that would make that possible.

The answer, in the decade following the fall of the Berlin wall, was
enlargement. This has been a tremendously successful policy, with a
momentous impact on the European continent. EU enlargement has made
an extraordinary contribution to peace and prosperity, thanks to our
strategic use of the incentives on offer. And I know Sweden has been
a strong supporter of this policy.

Nor is it over – we still have work to do to consolidate 2004’s
enlargement and there are new enlargement commitments on which we
must deliver.

Yet it is clear that the EU cannot enlarge ad infinitum.

So how else can we pursue our geo-strategic interest in expanding the
zone of stability, security and prosperity beyond our borders? How
best can we support our neighbours’ political and economic
transitions, and so tackle our own citizens’ concerns? ENP provides
the answer.

At its heart is the question of borders – not as a way of defining
ourselves, but because they are key to many of our citizens’ urgent
concerns – security, migration and economic growth. As Sweden knows
full well, borders cannot be solely about barriers and obstacles.
They must work flexibly as a facilitator of economic, social and
cultural exchanges.

That, in its essence, is what the European Neighbourhood Policy is
about. It is about responding to our citizens’ concerns for
prosperity, security and stability, not with an abstract concept but
with concrete, measurable results. And it is about helping our
neighbours towards their own prosperity, security and stability, not
by imposing reforms, but by supporting and encouraging reformers.

We offer our eastern and southern neighbours many of the benefits
previously associated only with membership, such as a stake in our
internal market, involvement in EU programmes, and cooperation in
transport and energy networks.

It is designed to offer a privileged form of partnership now,
irrespective of the exact nature of the future relationship with the
EU.

ENP is based on the same kind of positive conditionality underpinning
the enlargement process. We agree Action Plans with our partners
which set out the path to a closer relationship. Differentiation is
key – each country’s Action Plan responds to its particular needs and
capacities. In addition, progress is rewarded with greater incentives
and benefits. Only as our partners fulfil their commitments to
strengthen the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights;
promote market-oriented economic reforms; and cooperate on key
foreign policy objectives such as counter-terrorism and
non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, will we offer an
even deeper relationship.

Knowing the important role Sweden has played in the Northern
Dimension, I should point out that ENP is coherent with and
complementary to other processes in which we participate with our
partners. The principle of differentiation applies to our relations
with all our partners. With each one we promote our mutual goals in
ways specific to that country.

Questions have been raised as to whether the incentives on offer are
sufficient to encourage reform, and whether this is not simply a
repackaging of old policies in new clothes. My response is two-fold.
First, the impetus for meaningful reform must always come from
within. If that desire is not there, no amount of external assistance
or pressure will build sustainable reform. That is why the EU
believes in encouraging not imposing reform. Second, the EU’s offer
through ENP is not a second-best option to enlargement, but rather a
highly-desirable step-change in our relations offering substantive
benefits to all involved.

ENP has enabled us to tackle some of our citizens’ most pressing
concerns, like energy supplies, migration, and security.

1) Energy

Energy has been an important component of ENP since its inception.
But the events at the beginning of the year between Russia, Moldova
and Ukraine were a wake-up call, reminding us that energy security
needs to be even higher on our political agenda.

We need to continue to pursue close energy cooperation with our
partners in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus, and the Mediterranean. In
all my visits to neighbourhood countries, including Ukraine last week
and the South Caucasus last month, energy features heavily.

ENP promotes integration with Europe’s energy market and helps to
create the regulatory environment in which private sector investment
in infrastructure can take place. It also helps the countries
concerned come in line with European standards and norms.

In 2006 we will be boosting our energy cooperation as part of a
broader EU effort on energy supply – which will be outlined in the
Commission’s Green Paper tomorrow.

2) Migration

Migration is a highly sensitive issue for EU public opinion. In
uncertain times, it is understandable that our citizens are worried
about employment and increased competition for jobs.

Europe needs migration. Our populations are getting smaller and
growing older.

Through ENP we are trying to manage migration better: welcoming those
migrants we need for our economic and social well-being, while
clamping down on illegal immigration.

Throughout our neighbourhood we support projects to strengthen
institutional capacities; improve border controls; upgrade reception
facilities for asylum applicants and refugees; and fight illegal
immigration and people trafficking. We are also helping to build
institutions that enforce the rule of law and promote respect for
human rights.

3) Security

We are also using the ENP Action Plans to help increase security. We
have fostered practical cooperation between Israel and the
Palestinian Authority on issues such as trade, energy and transport.
Increasing cooperation and economic growth are absolutely vital for a
sustainable solution to the Middle East conflict. We will continue
these actions with the new Palestinian government, providing it seeks
peace by peaceful means, recognises the state of Israel and respects
its international commitments.

The border assistance mission to Moldova and Ukraine is designed to
contribute to resolving the long-running sore of the Transnistria
conflict. And the Action Plans we are currently discussing with
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia will address issues relating to
Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia’s internal conflicts.

4) Stability

An important part of ENP is the commitment partner governments make
to political reform. We are offering extra financial assistance to
those countries making real progress in implementing political
reforms and promoting human rights.

ENP also promotes economic and social reform, both for reasons of
solidarity, but also because we want stability in our neighbourhood
and thus added security for ourselves. So we are tackling poverty
through employment creation schemes; funding health and education
projects; and promoting economic development by improving the trade
and investment environment and stimulating small businesses and
entrepreneurs.

Through the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation, we are working
to build bridged between different peoples and cultures. As recent
events have shown, this must remain an important focus of our
attention. Here we can build on the great experience and credibility
of our member states, particularly Sweden.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We hope to expand full participation in ENP to Belarus, Libya and
Syria. But the political conditions are not yet ripe. Will the
elections in Belarus in less than two weeks pave the way for
increased democracy and so participation in ENP? Unfortunately, the
signs are not good. Until that day we have to look for alternative
ways of fostering the conditions for democracy. Over the last year we
have found innovative ways to channel assistance, such as the daily
broadcasts produced by Deutsche Welle, and our support for the
European Humanities University in Vilnius. Last week our new 2
million project for independent television and radio broadcasting
began. We will continue our commitment to the Belarusian people,
whatever the results of the elections, for democratic change is a
long term project which requires sustained commitment from us all.

We hope that after its elections at the end of this month Ukraine
will be in a position to take its cooperation with the EU still
further. We would like to do more, like moving towards a free trade
area as soon as Ukraine joins the WTO and finalising visa
facilitation and readmission.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am grateful for Sweden’s continued support for the implementation
of the European Neighbourhood Policy and I look forward to discussing
with Minister Freivalds and the Riksdag later today how we can go
further together.

Our task is to build on ENP’s early achievements and to make it a
truly beneficial policy for both our neighbours and ourselves. As we
deliver results we are not only benefiting our neighbours, but also
demonstrating to our citizens that the European Union does bring them
an added value.

On the eve of international women’s day, let me leave you with the
words of one of Sweden’s most outstanding women, Anna Lindh, `For
democracy to work in our society and passivity to disappear,’ she
said, `people must first come together and learn to work together for
common goals.’ We owe it to her memory, and the memory of Olof Palme,
the 20th anniversary of whose death was last week, not only to work
together, but to achieve those common goals.

Thank you.

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