Between the 1st and 2nd of June 2016, in Brussels, ChildPact attended the meeting of the Working Group 1 of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) focused on issues like democracy, human rights, good governance and stability. During these the two days of the meeting, the main discussions have addressed questions such as “How well can the reviewed ENP respond to the realities of the region?”, “How to make the dialogue with governments and the EU more transparent?”, and “How can we improve the working environment for CSOs in difficult conditions?”.
Several high level representatives of the EU have responded to the various questions asked by CSOs representatives coming from all over the Eastern Partnership region, from Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Among these there were presents: Luc Devigne (Director and Deputy Managing Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia and OSCE at the EEAS), Lawrence Meredith (Director of Neighbourhood East, DG NEAR, European Commission), Boris Iarochevitch (Head of Division, Eastern Partnership, Regional Cooperation and OSCE, EEAS), and others. The topics which have caused the most effervescent conversations were the changes engendered by the new European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the state of play of the reforms as envisaged by the Association Agreements with the EU, the space for civil society action and involvement in the region.
- The new ENP (European Neighbouring Policy) aims to reflect the interests and the priorities of the EU and each partner country – differentiation is the key work here. The ENP will seek to promote reforms in mutually agreed formats with each of its partners.
- The new ENP will be focused on fewer priorities than before, when it was shaped as a multilateral framework – “one size fits all”. These priorities will be negotiated with each partner country. The EU will start a new phase of engagement with partners in the near future, during the year, consulting on the future nature and focus of the partnership. The negotiations have not yet fully started. Civil society will be consulted as well during these negotiations processes.
- Nonetheless, there will be a particular focus on themes such as: open market and trade, economic growth, security at borders and in the region, migration, prospects for youth, energy security, climate and environment, gender equality. The stabilisation of the region is the main priority for the upcoming 3-5 years. The ENP will be committed to promoting good governance, democracy, rule of law and human rights in the entire neighbouring area.
- For countries like Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia who have signed Associations Agreements (AA) with the EU, the ENP will continue to build on the priorities already agreed and the main focus will be the implementation of the AAs.
Here you can find ChildPact’s previous statement reacting to the new ENP.