High Representative Mogherini and Commissioner Hahn have presented the “Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)”, which takes into consideration the result of public consultations carried out with stakeholders in the first half of the year. European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA) was one of almost 150 European civil society actors that contributed to the Review’s content. Several points of the document are relevant to Armenia and its relations with the EU.
The Review underlines that “differentiation and greater mutual ownership will be the hallmark of the new ENP”, a point warmly welcomed by EuFoA. “The ENP Review clearly reflects the position our NGO long stands for”, comments EuFoA Director, Mr Eduardo Lorenzo Ochoa, “namely that the European Neighbourhood is diverse and therefore each country deserves a relationship that plays best to its strengths. With the ENP Review, it is even clearer that the EU is about partnership, not paternalism. The upcoming negotiations for a new EU-Armenia agreement will consequently focus on areas of mutual interest and thus strengthen EU-Armenia relations.”
Ownership and differentiation became the overarching themes in shaping the future relations between the EU and its neighbours. Evaluating and assessing progress will also change, as “there will no longer be a single set of progress reports on all countries simultaneously”.
In the area of trade, countries like Armenia who did not sign a DCFTA with the EU will be able to “jointly determine attractive and realistic alternatives to promote integration and strengthen trade and investment relations that reflect mutual interests”. This could take the form of Agreements on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance (ACAAs), which allow free movement of industrial products in specific sectors and can be used in the area of technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment.
What is more, one of EuFoA proposals became part of the revised policy – conscious about the importance of EU communication with its neighbours, our NGO suggested using a clearer language. “Unfortunately, the technical jargon used in EU communications is often difficult to understand by any citizen, European or other”, explains Mr Lorenzo Ochoa. “It is more than just a question of reading comprehension: a simplified communication is the main tool of presenting the EU and its activities in a language that anybody can easily understand”.
The European Neighbourhood Policy, launched in 2004, frames the EU’s institutional and economic cooperation with its southern and eastern neighbours. Public consultations for the ENP review were launched after the commitment made by President Juncker that the ENP will be reviewed within the first year of the new Commission’s mandate. To frame the debate, a joint consultation paper by the European Commission and the High Representative was adopted on 4 March 2015, describing several preliminary findings in terms of lessons learnt from ENP to date, as well as questions for discussion with partners and stakeholders.