This report assesses ways in which the Action Plan process that has been launched under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) could become a more effective driver of political and economic change in the Mashreq region (covering Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories), compared with the modest results from the Barcelona process to date. The development of the ENP has already provided a valuable systemic/institutional advance in Euro-Med relations and has been an important confidence-building measure in an increasingly uncertain political environment. But it has yet to provide momentum for economic, political and social advance in the partner states. Key elements in making the Action Plan process more effective would be the following:
· The Commission needs to deepen the policy content of the ENP with sketches of different degrees of desirable EU acquis compliance as a function of different economic structures and capabilities of the partner states.
· The task of policy-shaping in different sectors of the Action Plans with the partner states needs to be shared by the Commission with other international organisations, most importantly the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
· The policy-shaping recommendations in support of the economic parts of the Action Plans should be explicitly linked to financial or market-access incentives (or both) on offer from the EU and international financial institutions.
The promotion of political reform in the partner states is a more delicate affair. Yet there is still some room for ‘positive conditionality’ if the Commission were to define more substantively the package of incentives that are offered to partner states.