European Neighbourhood Policy : Union Beefs Up Financial Support to Neighbours

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The European Commission increased, on 2 March, by 32% the Union's funding over 2011-2013 for programmes implemented in the countries participating in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and in Russia. The decision comes as a result of the mid-term review of existing programmes financed through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI).

"We want to engage further in cooperation with our neighbours, proving that the EU remains a solid and reliable partner in current hard times. [ ] Increased EU funding is an important tool to achieve these goals," said High Representative Catherine Ashton in a statement.

Over 5,7 billion will be allocated in the next three years to 19 ENPI programmes to be implemented in Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine and Russia. It is not yet clear what allocation will go to Belarus as the Commission is still negotiating an interim agreement' with Minsk. To date, Belarus has formally been a member of the ENP but its participation in the policy has been de facto suspended due to human rights violations. Unlike other ENP countries, Belarus has not agreed any action plan with the EU. The interim agreement is expected to fill this gap. However, the document will be "less developed than the typical action plan," a Commission source said.

Two multi-country programmes - Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and Cross-Border Cooperation - are also under preparation. "We hope to adopt the remaining three programmes by the end of the year," said the source. …