The European Neighbourhood Policy strives not only to enhance interaction among politicians and officials, but also between EU citizens and citizens of the neighbouring countries. Promoting contacts between people is seen as one of the best ways to achieve the objectives of the ENP and to lay a firm foundation for productive political and economic ties.
The human dimension of the policy affords citizens the opportunity to better understand each others’ cultures, history, values and mindset. It helps to boost the importance of a strong bond among residents of the EU and its neighbourhood. Further, it increases the visibility of the European Union in the partner countries.
People-to-people activities include:
Improving education and facilitating cultural, youth and research exchanges
Reform and modernisation of education systems are crucial pre-conditions for stability and economic competitiveness. There is a need to address gaps in the education level of the EU’s neighbourhood, especially in the Mediterranean area. Educational and youth exchanges thus present a core element of the ENP.
The EU has implemented various programmes involving the ENP countries in the facilitation of academic exchanges. University cooperation and exchange programmes like TEMPUS, YOUTH and ERASMUS MUNDUS have helped build bridges and overcome prejudices within the EU. A scholarship scheme covering all ENP partner countries is in development.
The dissemination and exchange of best practices in the field of higher education contribute to convergence with EU schemes, such as the Bologna process, in which many ENP partners participate.
In the field of research exchanges, scientific and technical agreements have been already signed by a number of ENP partners. These facilitate the participation of ENP universities, companies and research centres in the European Union’s research framework programme. The ENP also aims to raise awareness of opportunities for mobility grants, i.e. Marie Curie fellowships.
Civil society exchanges and enhanced civil society participation in ENP
The goal of civil society exchanges is to build contacts among trade unions, regional and local authorities, health practitioners, NGOs and cultural groups. The cross-border co-operation programmes funded under the ENPI play a key role here. While the majority of these programmes are of an economic and social character, schemes to enhance business contacts, cultural exchanges and inter-cultural dialogue are also being promoted.
Exchanges between regional and local authorities
Under the ENP the partner governments are being instigated to allow appropriate participation by civil society representatives as stakeholders in the reform process, whether in the preparation of legislation, the monitoring of its implementation or in developing national or regional initiatives related to the ENP. The policy stimulates debates with civil society by holding seminars covering the issue of reform challenges on national and regional levels.
The ENP aims to simplify the procedures of entrepreneurship and conducting trade.
Visibility and information activities
The ENP information and communication strategy helps to improve the visibility of the European Union as well as to project its objectives and achievements.