On 19 March, the European Commission presented its annual European Neighborhood Package in which the political and economic developments of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Moldova, Morocco, Tunisia and the Palestinian Territories are represented. The annual report by the European Commission evaluates the progress the EU neighbors have made. The package is important, because it determines how the European Union will distribute its EU funds to its neighbors, under the idea that democratic reforms will be rewarded. The aim is to use closer co-operation with the EU in areas such as free trade and visa liberalization as an incentive to reform. Algeria, Belarus, Libya and Syria have not entered into rapprochement deals with the EU and are therefore not covered in the report.
Georgia and Moldova made most progress
The report of 2013 shows that Georgia, Moldova and Armenia have made the most progress in reform and will therefore benefit from additional funds. According to the report, Moldova and Georgia acted upon most of the key recommendations from last year. Furthermore, Morocco and Tunisia have made a lot of progress in strengthening their relations with the EU, largely due to the approaching free trade negotiations.
Other countries, however, were criticized. The European Union warned Egypt and Ukraine that they are not making enough effort to improve their democracies. Also Israel made no significant changes and the report urged the country to curb settler violence. Azerbaijan was again criticized in the commission's report. The report stressed the need to make significant efforts to build deep and sustainable democracy. Ukraine has been a disappointment for the EU, because the country should have been the first eastern neighbor to sign an association agreement, but the process has been derailed by inter alia the jailing of the opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule has warned that recent political activities could prevent the agreement that was expected to be signed in November 2013, at a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. Georgia, Moldova and Armenia are voicing hopes of finalizing their Association Agreements by the time of that summit.
Source: The Windsor Star, Europe Online Magazine, Radio Free Europe