The European Union will invest an additional €1.2 billion ($1.8 million) in countries in Eastern Europe and the southern Mediterranean region over the next two years as part of the new policy adopted by the bloc to guide its relations with its eastern and southern neighbor countries.
Under the new European Neighborhood Policy, the EU says it will support progress toward “deep democracy,” promote sustainable social and economic development, and help build effective regional partnerships among countries in Eastern Europe and the south of the Mediterranean.
The new policy also confirms the intention of the EU to tie its future assistance for its immediate neighbor countries to the progress of these countries in implementing political reforms.
The additional €1.24 billion comes on top of the €5.7 billion the EU has allocated in its previous policy. It will be used to “further reinforce the partnership with people across the region, support sustainable and inclusive growth, cover the additional needs stemming from the democratic transformation of partner countries, and fund the new initiatives stemming from this review, notably in the areas of partnership with societies, rural and regional development.”
The adoption of a revised policy for Eastern Europe and the southern Mediterranean region “is a concrete response to the Arab Spring and the aspirations of the countries to the east of the European Union,” the EU said May 25 in a news release.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the new policy is not only a commitment of extra money but an expression of the EU’s support for reforms in recipient countries. It also sets clearer conditions for EU assistance, he added.
“We need to set clearer conditions and give ‘more for more’. One concrete example is to create a European Endowment for Democracy to support our partner’s democratic changes. We will also set up a Civil Society Facility to enhance the political role of non-state actors, such as NGOs or social partners,” Barroso said.
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