The Secretariat for Foreign and European Union Affairs, through its permanent representative in Brussels, sent the European Commission its contribution to the open consultation on a new European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The document entitled “Stocktaking and suggestions for a new European Neighbourhood Policy” includes ideas and suggestions to adapt ENP to the current political context. The ENP was developed in the setting of the 2004 European Union enlargement and is based on the financial, institutional and political support to consolidate the economies of the developing EU neighbouring countries. After over 10 years, the EU wishes to redefine the relations with the southern Mediterranean and East European countries, while taking into account that the previously established objectives have yet to be achieved.
As a result of Catalonia’s historical pro-European implication and disposition, the Government of Catalonia participated in this consultation process with a document of suggestions drawn from Catalonia’s experience in Euro-Mediterranean policy and was drafted with the collaboration of experts and institutions, such as the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) and the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB). Beyond an answer to the security challenge, both the ENP and the Euro-Mediterranean Process aim to associate the EU with a number of countries totalling nearly 400 million inhabitants and which present outstanding demographic and trade complementarities. The intention is to form a stable and prosperous region that can compete with other major economic areas.
Catalan Government’s contribution to the European Neighbourhood Policy
The document sent by the Government of Catalonia does not only establish the main challenges of the current policy but also sets out ideas and suggestions for an improved ENP. On the one hand, it opts for a balance between ambition and realism, not only taking into account the limitations of what is possible in the current context but also encouraging the legitimate aspirations of its neighbouring countries. In this respect, the Catalan Government opts for a redistribution of spending that takes into account the historical significance of the challenges presented by the Mediterranean. The document considers that ENP expenditure per capita is not coherent with regards to some Eastern countries as in some cases it is 10 times higher than in more populous countries of Southern Europe.
Secondly, the document highlights that the main challenge for the EU is to accentuate the diversification of ENP without calling into question its regional dimension and avoiding fragmentation. The Catalan Government also believes that the European Union should coordinate ENP with its foreign policy and the foreign policy of its Member States, together with the three established partnerships: the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the Eastern Partnership and Black Sea Synergy. Moreover, the document welcomes a greater integration of policies for the Maghreb with those devised for sub-Saharan Africa, taking into account markets, security and the movement of persons.
Furthermore, the Catalan Government promotes “the participation by civil society in mapping out and implementing programmes”. The ENP review should give more prominence to parliaments as well as subnational and local authorities which play an increasingly important role in establishing regional ties. The document highlights the significant role which can be played by supra-national institutions like the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) in the context of regional cooperation. Finally, the text suggests that the UfM should have more importance in ENP coordination, given that in spite of political and budgetary constraints, the UfM is the most advanced expression of a multilateral policy-making in the Mediterranean. The Catalan Government believes that it is necessary to give the UfM Secretariat a more global dimension. In this respect, it made reference to the 20th anniversary celebration of the Euro-Mediterranean Conference (to be held on November 20 this year) as a good opportunity to place the UfM at the centre of relations between Europe and southern and eastern Mediterranean countries.
Note: Attached is the analysis entitled “Stocktaking and suggestions for a new European Neighbourhood Policy” which was created in April 2015 and used as foundation to draw the final proposal