The joint communication on the revised European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was issued on 18th November 2015 and council conclusions were adopted on 14th December 2015, setting the framework for the revision of regional and bilateral cooperation between the European Union and Southern Neighbourhood countries. Currently, the EU is consulting with member states and partner countries to agree and sign Partnership Priorities (PPs) for the 2016-2020 period.
SOLIDAR and the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), have provided input into the consultation on the revision of the policy, and have been actively engaged in monitoring the impact of the ENP in promoting and defending civil society space, and in promoting the progressive realisation of economic, social and cultural rights (ECSRs) in the southern neighbourhood countries.
On the occasion of the 3rd edition of the EU Civil Society Forum Neighbourhood South organised on 26 and 27 May in Brussels by the European Commission, we would like to highlight our ‘red lines’ identified to be crucial for the implementation of the ENP in the European Southern Neighbourhood Countries in order to promote ESCRs:
Instead of pushing structural reforms implemented with stringent economic and fiscal policy conditionality, the new Partnership Priorities (PPs) should boost economic prosperity and stability by promoting universal social protection systems. In this regard, National Social Protection Floors (SPFs) should be recognised as key elements to be promoted within the ENP’s PPs and support to the establishment of SPFs should be scaled up through the Single Support Framework.
The EU has been a promoter of structural reforms though public-private partnerships implemented through the International Financial Institutions. While recognising the importance of private sector development in the MENA region, the promotion of new public-private partnerships should be conditional to the setting up of quality principles (including transparency, rights- based accountability mechanisms access to information, compensation mechanisms) for the relationships between service providers and users, as well as the relationships between service providers, public authorities, social partners and other stakeholders should be established and respected to ensure that the specific characteristics of services of general interests are taken into account and shared when setting procurement rules. In addition, the EU should stop imposing controversial economic policy conditions which push privatisation and trade liberalisation related reforms.
Trade and market liberalisation
The EU seeks to promote the gradual economic integration of partners in the EU internal market to achieve prosperity through market liberalisation and the so-called free trade agreements. In this context, free trade agreements should ensure to promote the domestic productive capacities of partner countries and, insist that the sectors of education, health care and social services of general interests should be excluded from the DCFTAs negotiations. In this regard, social services should be left out of free trade agreements, and social economy actors should be better recognised and promoted as key components for promoting quality, affordable and accessible services as a basis.