The EU's goals of stability, economic growth and the promotion of fundamental values are at the heart of the relations between the Union and its Southern and Eastern neighbours (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus). The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) represents the context and the instrument specifically dedicated to achieving these goals through the signing of Association Agreements, which include free trade areas with the countries concerned. They are meant to foster political dialogue, democratic reforms, market integration, economic growth and the management of people's mobility.
The European Neighbourhood Policy project was launched in 2004 in conjunction with the fifth enlargement of the Union. Its strategic objective was to bring together the "new neighbours" countries under the same umbrella, thus promoting a balanced development of relations with neighbours to the East (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus) and to the South (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria). Subsequently, in order to enhance the Policy's effectiveness, new regional strategies were defined, which led to the establishment of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in July 2008, and of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) in May 2009.
Renewed in 2015 to make it more effective and responsive to a changed geopolitical scenario, and to new challenges at the EU's external borders, the new ENP has adopted a new approach that by enhancing flexibility, differentiation and partnership, aims to transform the EU-Partner Countries relation into a "partnership of equals". This can be achieved through the joint identification of shared objectives and instruments, designed to promote EU interests and values in an inclusive and non-antagonizing way, vis-à-vis state and regional actors that are located beyond the Neighbourhood.
The ENP has also played a crucial role with regards to the events of the Arab Spring, which changed the political order of the southern shore of the Mediterranean. This is a region that may generate systemic risks for Europe , from a security, economic and migration perspective. In particular, on this side of the Neighbourhood, the EU has engaged in a constructive political dialogue and economic and financial initiatives with a view to contributing to the promotion of electoral processes in Egypt, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia; the launching of Advanced Action Plans and negotiations for the establishment of deep and comprehensive free trade areas with Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan; ensuring financial support for the most vulnerable Partners; the promotion of dialogue on migration issues, which has secured Mobility Partnership Agreements with Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan.
The Eastern area of the ENP is best represented by the Eastern Partnership (EaP), which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It was officially established at the Prague Summit on May 7, 2009. The Union's contribution to the dynamics of the Eastern Neighbourhood is shown by its commitment to pursue EaP's long-term objectives, i.e. economic integration, political association and freedom of movement between the EU and its Eastern Partners. Association Agreements between the EU and the Countries concerned are the tools used to achieve these objectives, along with the creation of deep and large comprehensive free trade areas, the prospect of visa facilitation agreements, the establishment of four thematic platforms on democracy, economic integration with the EU, energy security and contacts between societies. The EU's commitment is twofold: to encourage Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, the three countries that in 2014 signed Association Agreements, that included a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA), to implement the planned reforms, but also to pursue, through ad hoc contractual formulas, deeper and more ambitious relations with the other Eastern Partners (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus) that have not signed the Association Agreements. Regarding freedom of movement between the EU and EaP countries, Moldova completed the Schengen liberalization process in 2014; identical processes were finalized with Georgia and Ukraine in 2017.
The Eastern Partnership Summit held in Brussels on November 24, 2017 ratified the adoption of the working document containing the "20 deliverables for 2020", a 20-pointroadmap (to be implemented over the next three years) regarding the four areas which the 2015 Riga Summit already identified as being a priority and namely: Stronger economy - economic development and market opportunities, Stronger governance - strengthening institutions and good governance, Stronger connectivity - connectivity, energy efficiency, environment and climate change, and Stronger society - mobility and people-to-people contacts.