The European Neighbourhood Policy was developed in 2003 to strengthen relations between the EU and its neighbouring countries. In this opinion looking at is role in the future, the CoR rapporteur calls for the policy to be developed in a way which involves local and regional authorities in all phases: from setting priorities and evaluating outcomes to auditing the content of government policies. He notes that the new European Neighbourhood Policy will have little or no impact if there are not benefits for citizens nor if the benefits will only be visible in the distant future. A cornerstone should therefore be progressive integration through the implementation of political, economic and institutional reforms, bearing in mind the commitment to shared values, foremost among those being democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. He also proposes that close cooperation on energy issues should be a significant part of the EU’s relations with its neighbours given that many of the Eastern Partnership countries are significant suppliers of energy sources for the EU Member States. Lastly, Councillor Chiotakis proposes that a macro-regional approach could be applied to the
Mediterranean basin based on the successful experience in the Baltic and Danube macro-regions.
The revision of the Neighbourhood policy comes at the right moment. With the ongoing changes in our neighbourhood we need more responsive, differentiated and politically driven policy. The EU also has to get back to basics and support its partners in building more stable, secure and prosperous neighbourhood. This would not be possible without connecting with all parts of society and especially efforts coming from regional and local authorities.