The European Commission’s proposal to combine current 12 external action instruments under one roof sends a negative signal to partners in the entire neighbourhood, warns Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) in a position paper, addressing NDICI – Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument and the future of EU funding under the next MFF – Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.

Instead, EaP CSF advocates for an “enhanced” ENI – European Neighbourhood Instrument, operating outside NDICI. “The existing governance structure of ENI is best equipped to pursue the stated goals of the geographic programmes – EU’s economic and policy interests in all partner countries”, bringing years of experience and implementation practice, accumulated under DG NEAR. What is more, it recognises work done by partners in neighbourhood countries and projects a stronger political message to international actors.

Referring to an earlier paper, drafted in March 2018, EaP CSF maintains its stance on NDICI – pinpointing to a number of “political and technical concerns in the area of governance and flexibility of the instrument”. On September 25, the updated position was formally presented to European Parliament AFET – Committee on Foreign Affairs, and DEVE – Committee on Development rapporteursChristian Dan Preda (EPP) and Pier Antonio Panzeri (SD), as well as Frank Engel (EPP) and Charles Goerens (ALDE).

At present, EaP CSF’s concerns are:

  1. Financial support to EU neighbourhood should be consigned to existing ENI regulation – to ensure continuity and prevent the “risk of downgrading, damaging and abandoning EaP policy concept”, which is likely to carry negative effects on stability and resilience in the region
  2. NDICI does not address experiences from the current MFF and crucial role performed by civil society in the region – especially in “programming, monitoring and evaluation of the instrument”, at both multilateral and bilateral level
  3. ENI 2.0” should be sustained, as provisionally agreed in ENI budget line increase “in the draft MFF proposal for 2021-2027 to EUR 22 billion, i.e. by 24% comparing to current MFF”, which would guarantee EU’s ambitious plans and regional resilience – especially in the context of “EaP 3+1”, or existing contractual relations between Armenia (CEPA), Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine (AA/DCFTAs)

The last point also brings about the question of East vs South neighbourhood allocations formula, which is not codified in any ENI regulations.

“Single instrument does not automatically bring about smart flexibility, proper governance, programming and complementarity of the existing instruments”, we read in the position paper. In presenting the counter-argument, EaP CSF is clear: we have to sustain our relationship with partners in the neighbourhood, which would not be possible under NDICI.