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Polish Presidency: Searching for the new European Neighbourhood Policy

Submitted by on 14 Apr 2011 – 14:43

Paweł Kowal MEP, Member of the Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly

When the European Neighbourhood Policy was launched in 2004, there was hardly anyone who imagined that the verification of general strategy would come so early. The crisis in North Africa has questioned the effectiveness of the ENP, but in fact problems in the enlargement of “stability and prosperity” area outside the EU have been visible since the ENP started.  The latest events in Northern Africa by coincidence occurred at the same time as the general revision of the ENP principles by the European Commission and Commissioner for the Neighbourhood and Enlargement Policy Stefan Fule. The African “spring revolution” has proved that the EU needs a new, comprehensive strategy towards the entire Mediterranean region as well as its eastern neighbours. The strategy on the southern dimension actually supported stabilization at the first place, instead of democratization but it turned out to be supporting authoritarian regimes. As a result we are facing neither stabilization nor democratization. The crisis in Africa is merely an example of the EU’s lack of effectiveness, which is also clearly visible in the EU policy towards the Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. But we should bear in mind that the concentration on the southern dimension and neglect for the East could lead to instability in the Eastern Partnership countries. Relations with our neighbours are not a luxury but a necessity and an investment in our European security.

The EU needs to launch a new policy which will focus on investments in education, development of civil society and modernization. The upcoming Polish Presidency is a good opportunity to implement practically the provisions of the revised ENP. Poland was a pioneer in the process of successful transition and democratization in the 90′s, and this experience could be very useful during a discussion on a new neighbourhood framework. Poland will strongly support an increase of the ENP budget and will do its best to conclude the Association Agreement with Ukraine. According to the principle that entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity maybe the idea of ​​a clear separation of the Southern and Eastern dimension of the EPS is worth considering. On the south, the basic platform for it could be a Union for the Mediterranean and on the East – Eastern Partnership. Both regions equally need support from the EU. On the East we are still facing problems with frozen conflicts, especially in Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia.

The crisis in Africa shows that if the EU wants to become a global actor it should strengthen its foreign policy. The intervention in Libya under the leadership of France and Great Britain was kind of a “coalition of the willing” – so criticized by Paris during the American operation in Iraq. The peak of the EU abilities was an evacuation of European citizens from the area of the conflict. Another one of the Polish priorities is the strengthening of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The EU needs to take care of its civil and military resources. The intervention in Libya revealed the lack of cooperation between the EU and NATO. Poland has always reinforced the complementary cooperation between these organizations and during its Presidency Warsaw will promote dialogue, so as to achieve the effect of synergy.