The Institute of Public Affairs (Instytut SPraw Publicznych – ISP) is one of the leading Polish think tanks and an independent centre for policy research and analysis, which was established in 1995. The ISP has released, hot off the press, a review of the EU’s financial assistance scheme in the Eastern Neighborhood countries, entitled ‘ENPI’s performances in Eastern Partnership States: Lessons from the Current Perspective for the New Budget’. According to the ISP, the report “reviews the experience of implementing EU assistance in the region of the Eastern Partnership in the current financial perspective (2007-2013), suggesting ways in which it can be made into a more effective instrument for realizing political priorities of cooperation.”
After analyzing its European Neighbourhood Policy and its implementation of financial assistance to the Neighbourhood countries, the EU has pinpointed several ‘key shortcomings’ in its operations in this regard. According to the ISP, these shortcomings are:
“…insufficient incentives for reforms and the need to apply the “more for more” principle more consistently; limited impact of available funds due to their small volume, annual budgeting and thematic fragmentation; and inadequate mechanisms for engaging civil society actors in planning, implementing and monitoring the assistance.”
Due to these shortcomings, it has been argued that budget support – lent in order to act as an incentive for Neighbourhood countries to implement internal reforms – has been, so far, unsuccessful. The ISP report elucidates:
“Review of the actual priorities of disbursed funds in 2008-2011 reveals that financing was scattered to numerous thematic areas, and virtually no common themes could be identified in the budget support among the beneficiary states. Reducing the number of priority issues is needed to give focus to both bilateral and multilateral aid. EU would do well to identify as primary those two or three sectors that are crucial for progress in the ongoing integration processes, such as the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement and
visa liberalization dialogue. Multilateral aid could concentrate only on those issues in which several beneficiary states have expressed interest, and cases of successful cooperation should be rewarded with dedicated funds for follow-up initiatives.”
The ISP report reiterates the European Commission’s proposal for simplifying the assessment process, and also highlights the need to instate a realistic mechanism for increasing transparency and improving monitoring of assistance. The ISP also commends the launch of the Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility and of the European Endowment for Democracy, saying that such a move “indicates that support to civil society as an agent of democratization has become a substantive item on the ENPI agenda following years of relative neglect.” The report also explains that the strengthening of such instruments can lend powerful support to implementing internal reforms and human rights observation, through advocacy.
The ISP report points out that the EU and the Eastern Neighborhood Partnership Instrument (ENPI), which is used to finance the EU’s activities in the region, has a weighty remit. A remit which sees the EU struggling to combine, and achieve, a dual purpose–as the ISP report explains:
“Relations with countries in its neighbourhood demonstrate the tension between two sets of objectives of the EU’s aid: development and democratization…In its assistance to countries in the neighbourhood the EU is at the same time trying to effect a transformation effect, serving as a model of peaceful coexistence of states, multi-level democratic governance and economic integration. Pursuit of one set of goals (development) may hamper realizing the other (transformation) as happens in the case of setting the agenda for cooperation.”
The ISP has identified such a duality of purpose as one possible factor which underpins the ENPI’s lack of success in implementing its financial scheme thus far. For the full breakdown of the ISP’s analysis, and reccomendations read the ISP’s review.