The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was launched in 2003 by the European Commission in order to propose a coherent project for involving the EU’s southern and eastern neighbours. It became an EU policy in its own right in 2007 with the creation of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). This policy is being taken forward in 2014-2020 with particular focus on the “more for more” principle: more support for actions contributing towards EU values, such as democracy. The financial instrument supporting this policy is now known as ENI (European Neighbourhood Instrument).
The CPMR has been involved from the outset in discussions on the EU’s relations with its neighbourhood, and all along has been seeking to promote the role of the Regions for a balanced development of the EU’s border areas.
The CPMR’s considerations have allowed it to conceive a broad-based approach to Europe as a “geostrategic area of 800 million inhabitants”. It is on this basis that the CPMR is putting forward the idea of a convergence policy at the Union’s borders aimed at guaranteeing peace, stability and prosperity.
For the CPMR; this can be achieved notably by joining up ENP and regional policy for an enlarged cohesion policy and by respecting territorial diversity.
The CPMR takes on board this approach in its action to promote macro-regional strategies. These strategies – which have been under development since 2007 – include territories from neighbouring countries. The CPMR is especially active in preparing the Adriatic-Ionian Strategy (EUSAIR) adopted in 2014, which involves 4 Member States (Italy, Croatia, Greece, Slovenia) and 4 States from the Western Balkans that are not yet members of the EU (Montenegro, Bosnia, Albania, Serbia). The CPMR considers EUSAIR as the first part of a wider strategy that it is promoting for the whole of the Mediterranean sea area stretching from North to South and East to West, to serve as an instrument for the Union for the Mediterranean.
The CPMR’s geographical commissions are at the centre of this work, essentially the Inter-Mediterranean Commission as well as the Balkan and Black Sea Commission which is campaigning for a real Black Sea strategy to take over from the Black Sea Synergy, which was adopted in 2007 but has failed to make any significant impact. The Regions are able to help put these strategies into practice through EU programmes co-financed by the ERDF (Interreg) and ENI.
The main challenge of ENP is to succeed in broadening and enhancing these new partnerships to turn them into drivers for a coherent and dynamic European periphery.