European Commission launches ambitious Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean

The European Commission today presented a comprehensive offer of practical measures to support and underpin the transition process in the Southern Mediterranean, to be submitted to EU leaders meeting in an extraordinary summit on Friday.
The European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy today presented the Communication for a Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean, a strategy which spells out what Europe can do to support the momentous changes in its Southern Neighbourhood.
Introducing the plan, Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "The historic changes underway in the Southern Mediterranean carry the hope of more freedom, democracy, and a better life for the people in the region. It is our responsibility to rise up and support that transformation.” He said the EU was determined to make “a qualitative leap forward” in the relations with its neighbours who are willing and able to embark on the path of political and economic reforms.
"The European Union has the experience and tools to help the countries in the region as they make the journey to deep democracy," added High Representative Catherine Ashton. "Today we have agreed a comprehensive offer of practical measures to support and underpin this process of transition.”
She said she looked forward to EU leaders endorsing these measures at Friday's Summit, adding: “It is not for the EU to seek to impose solutions - these revolutions belong to the people of the region. It is for the people themselves to decide how they want to be governed and what assistance they require. Europe stands ready to provide any support it can."
According to a Commission press release, the Partnership for Democracy and Prosperity should be built on three key pillars:
i)      targeted support for democratic transformation and institution-building, with a particular focus on human rights, constitutional and judicial reforms and the fight against corruption;
ii)    a close partnership with the people, with a specific emphasis on support to civil society and more opportunities for people-to-people contacts, especially for the young;
iii)   a boost for economic growth, development and job creation, notably through support to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises,. In this context, the Commission will refocus the substantial assistance programmes, which currently make € 4 billion in grants available to its Southern neighbours for the period 2011-13.
The EU has already made €30 million available to tackle the most pressing humanitarian needs of the displaced people, and in Tunisia, an additional EU aid package of €17 million has been prepared for immediate support for democratic transition and assistance to impoverished areas. “Now is the time to table tools to attain our longer term objectives: democracy, rule of law and inclusive growth,” the press release said.
In implementing this Partnership, the Commission proposes a clearly incentive-based approach of country-wise differentiation and ‘more for more’. Partners who move faster on political and economic reforms should be able to count on greater support from the EU. (ENPI Info Centre)
Read more
European Commission press release
Communication for a Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean - full text
ENPI Info Centre – Upheaval in the Southern Mediterranean: Europe must rise to the challenge
ENPI Info Centre – Ashton: we need the right blend of democratic and economic reform to meet historic challenge

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