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External Relations – European Neighbourhood Policy
European Neighbourhood Policy – Southern Dimension
The Southern Dimension is the second pillar of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and focuses on EU relations with 10 Mediterranean partners (Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and the Palestinian Authority). This EU policy was introduced in 2004 and subsequently revised in 2011 and 2015. It is governed by the principles of conditionality – with reference to the progress of the Southern partners in promoting political reforms and the consolidation of democratic institutions - and differentiation – and based on the performance of each partner.
The EU approach with Mediterranean partner countries has both a bilateral and a multilateral aspect. Bilaterally, the Southern Dimension of the European Neighborhood Policy is implemented through a network of Association Agreements, where the Action Plans that set out the short and medium term priorities in the field of political and economic reforms are crucial. In the multilateral scheme, the Southern Dimension of the ENP has been enriched by the launch of the Union for the Mediterranean, which in 2008 replaced the Barcelona Process.
In the wake of the "Arab Spring” (2011), the ENP was revised. A key methodological innovation was then adopted by the European Commission in agreement with the European External Action Service (EEAS), aiming at evaluating the approach of each partner towards the EU annually. It is important to note that the funds granted by the EU are provided in accordance to specific needs and priorities, as well as according to the progress shown by each of the Southern partners in terms of democratic reforms.
The developments that have taken place in recent years in the EU neighborhood countries, have led to a new revision of the ENP, which was completed through the Joint Communication of the EEAS and the European Commission (18.11.2015), following an extensive public consultation. The main points of the revised ENP refer to the individual approach (“tailor-made” approach) of the Neighborhood partner countries, as well as to the creation of a security dimension.
In particular, the creation of a security dimension will pave the way for the development of synergies between the ENP and the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) / Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) aimed at tackling the crises that arise in the Neighborhood.
Topics such as economic development for stability, support for the youth especially through education and employment, partnerships with civil society, migration/mobility and energy are among the priority areas defined in the revised ENP. Greece has actively participated in these discussions, given the traditional ties with Northern African and Middle East countries. These ties facilitate the understanding of local conditions and enhance the existing communication channels with regional actors.
In the context of the revision process of the ENP that started in 2011, Greece together with Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta, France and Slovenia submitted a common proposal, based on the idea that this policy is not a static structure but rather a constantly evolving scheme. Particularly, its configuration should take into account ongoing developments in Neighborhood countries, many of which have, in every respect, an immediate impact on Europe, in social, economic and environmental aspects.
Furthermore, in the context of the revised Southern Dimension of the ENP, the Union for the Mediterranean plays a particular role at multilateral level, contributing to the reinvigoration of cooperation in the region.
Due to its unique position at a geographical and cultural crossroad between North and South, East and West, Greece constitutes a pillar of stability in the wider region, demonstrating both its ability and the political will to assume an active role in its neighborhood. Greece attaches particular importance to the Southern Dimension of the ENP and firmly encourages the Mediterranean countries to intensify their efforts towards the consolidation of democratic reforms and promotion of socio-economic developments, making full use of all the tools provided by the ENP. In the same vein, our country supports the synergies between the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and other regional initiatives where Mediterranean issues are discussed.
A significant contribution in this direction was the institutionalization on an annual basis, starting in 2016, of a Ministerial Conference on Security and Stability, in Rhodes, upon an initiative of the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Nikos Kotzias, with the participation of five EU member states, of candidate countries, as well as countries from the MENA region. This initiative aims at enhancing dialogue and cooperation among the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and their neighboring countries, as well as addressing common challenges threatening the stability of the wider region, such as conflict, terrorism, radicalization and the refugee crisis. The participating countries have agreed to develop synergies in the fields of economy, transport, energy, culture, education, youth empowerment and the fight against corruption, themes similar to the agenda of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). Furthermore, a Committee was established to explore and implement projects aiming at countering extremism and promoting peaceful coexistence, targeting particularly the youth.
Greece is undertaking continued and consistent efforts to facilitate and promote cooperation and coordination between the Mediterranean EU member states. Thus, it was the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Alexis Tsipras, who convened in Athens, on September 9, 2016, the first Summit of the Heads of State and Governments of the seven Mediterranean EU member states. This Summit, adopted a Declaration underlining that the Common European Project needs to be built upon a Mediterranean region that will be a zone of peace, stability and prosperity. To this end, it is of vital importance that challenges stemming from a world of versatile interactions and interdependencies be effectively addressed.
Furthermore, Greece alongside Italy and France participate in the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI). The members of this unique partnership institution contribute in building synergies among Mediterranean Stakeholders (governments, financiers, private entrepreneurs, civil society, etc) in order to make an impact on development and be transformational for the Mediterranean region.