European Law Monitor

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European Law Monitor newsEUROBAROMETER: Europeans support greater cooperation with neighbouring countries

A survey conducted for the European Commission by Eurobarometer confirms that a significant majority of people in EU Member States support efforts to intensify co-operation with the countries neighbouring the Union. The overwhelming majority of those polled believe that working with neighbours on fighting organised crime and terrorism, on environment and energy, on economic development, immigration, democracy, education and training is important. Most Europeans believe that EU assistance to its neighbours can serve to extend peace and democracy beyond the borders of the Union, and around half believe that neighbouring countries are indeed willing to co-operate with the EU to introduce internal reforms.

Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said: "This survey confirms that awareness of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is rising inside the EU, and that Europeans will understand the benefits of forging closer relations with the countries with whom we share land and sea borders. Whether we are deepening co-operation on crime, trade, energy or migration, we are bringing tangible benefits for ourselves and our neighbours".

She added: "The ENP is a win-win policy: helping our closest neighbours to achieve prosperity and stability makes Europe a better place to live. With time, I hope that more and more people will appreciate that this policy makes us all more secure and that the advantages the European Neighbourhood Policy brings are well worth the cost".

Key findings of the survey include:

       * Strong majorities of those polled consider it important, or very important, to co-operate with neighbouring countries on tackling organised crime and terrorism (89%), on environment and energy (86%), on economic development (85%), on democracy (82%), on education and training (81%) and on immigration (71%).
       * There is substantial support for the political aspects of the policy: 73% believe that the EU can help to promote democracy in these countries, 67% believe that helping neighbouring countries will reduce the risk of war and conflicts in Europe, and 62% believe that working closely with neighbours can reduce illegal immigration.
       * On costs and benefits, a clear majority (61%) believe that co-operating with neighbours can produce mutual benefits for the EU and its neighbours, but 79% are concerned at the cost of such co-operation. 61% consider that helping neighbours to prosper will increase the EU's own prosperity and 74% think that helping neighbours will enable EU companies to expand into new market. On the other hand, 45% are concerned that promoting reforms in the neighbourhood could endanger the EU's own peace and stability.

       * Awareness of ENP has risen since last year (one in five respondents have now heard of the policy).

The survey is based on 27,000 interviews conducted between May 25 and June 30 2007 in the EU 27 Member States.

The European Neighbourhood Policy

The European Neighbourhood Policy has been developed with the objective of increasing the mutual prosperity, stability and security in the EU and its neighbouring countries.

The ENP offers privileged political and economic relations to 16 countries[1] neighbouring the EU and builds upon existing relationships (Partnership and Co-operation and Association Agreements, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership). Co-operation under ENP is based on a mutual commitment to common values (democracy and human rights, rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development).

For additional information on the survey and to access the report:

For additional information on the European Neighbourhood Policy, see also:

[1] Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine. Relations with Russia are not covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy, but rather by the EU-Russia Strategic Partnership.

Reproduced with the permission of the European Commission REF IP/07/1264