Monday

18th Mar 2019

Landmark neighbourhood strategy to be approved

The European Commission will on Wednesday (11 May) approve a landmark strategy paper, which will determine how the EU deals with its new neighbours to the east and south.

At their weekly meeting in Brussels tomorrow, Commissioners are expected to approve a strategy paper on the wider Europe region.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The strategy paper, running to dozens of pages, will be accompanied by country plans, drawn up by the Commission, detailing ways of developing the first wave of what is being called the European Neighbourhood Initiative.

Israel, Jordan, Moldova, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Ukraine are the first to agree to join the policy.

The strategy element of the paper mirrors a five-page plan presented by the Irish EU presidency earlier this year, dealing with the EU's neighbours in one policy, but with the depth of ties determined on a country-by-country basis.

The EU has offered deeper economic ties in return for political dialogue and democratic reform.

Change and influence

The success of the policy will be crucially important for the European Union, ascertaining its ability to encourage, change and influence events in countries which have no immediate prospect of EU membership.

Although the final texts will be agreed by the EU and the countries concerned, some countries involved have criticised the lack of ambition in the plans.

Some, such as Moldova and Ukraine, have been keen to limit the period covered by the plans, as they continue to press for recognition as prospective EU members.

According to one diplomat involved in framing the strategy, joint action plans with Egypt, Lebanon and Algeria are likely to follow, most likely in the autumn.

As agreed by Foreign Ministers in January, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia will be offered the prospect of joining the initiative after being left out in the initial stages.

Diplomats say the southern Caucasian republics are likely to receive assurances that they can begin talks aimed at agreeing on an action plan in the near future.

For now, Belarus remains in the cold, with diplomatic ties between Minsk and Brussels at a minimum.

Approval by the Commission will be the first step towards putting the plans into action.

Member states are expected to give the policy the go-ahead in June and move towards finalising the Joint Action Plans.

Correction to the original version of this story

Name row on new EU sanctions exposes deeper rift

EU officials have voiced scepticism on proposed new human rights sanctions, amid a "nasty" debate to what extent Russia ought to be named and shamed in the title of the new measures.

Hopeless Gaza Strip ripe for Islamic State, says UN head

Fears are mounting that more extreme militants, possibly linked to the Islamic State, will gain a foothold in the Gaza Strip as trapped youth lose all sense of hope in a conflict that is on the verge of boiling over.

Investigation

Leaked document sheds light on Turkey's controlled 'coup'

More than two years after the failed putsch, evidence is trickling out to support what the EU initially suspected - that Erdogan knew what was going to happen and let it go ahead as a pretext to create one-man rule.

News in Brief

  1. Third Brexit vote this week only if DUP will support it
  2. Germany's two largest banks confirm merger talks
  3. Serbian pro-democracy protests reach 15th week
  4. 'Yellow Vest' riots leave Paris shops vandalised
  5. European woman older when having first baby
  6. Majority of Germans want Merkel to stay on
  7. Asylum applications in the EU down to 580,800 in 2018
  8. Children's climate school strikes turn global on Friday

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  3. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  6. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  11. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  12. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us