Trade and investment are vital to improving economic growth and employment in the ENP countries. The Neighbourhood Policy seeks to increase levels of effective protection of intellectual and industrial property rights. Together with regulatory convergence and improved market access in the area of public procurement, this can lead to significant effects on economic development and on investment levels.
Two-way investments can be increased and facilitated by an improved investment climate. Ensuring transparency, predictability, and simplification of regulatory frameworks within ENP countries helps achieve this end, which can be facilitated via systematic dialogue covering investment-related issues. Consultation with stakeholders is also important. These steps are essential to improving the bilateral investment environment. Reduced administrative barriers to the development of business can also be achieved.
The ENP action plans include ways and means to ensure that the EU and its neighbours derive the full benefits from the provisions on trade included in existing Partnership and Cooperation agreements or Association agreements. Legislative and regulatory approximation is pursued on the basis of commonly agreed-upon priorities, focusing on the most relevant elements of the EU acquis. It stimulates trade and economic integration, while taking into account the specific economic structure of the partner country, in particular the current level of harmonisation with EU legislation. To this end, the ENP establishes and trains independent competition authorities with adequate powers and resources as well as proper training.
The ENP also foresees greater market opening, in accordance with the principles of the World Trade Organisation. The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership put in place a free trade area for goods. Asymmetric liberalisation has begun. For the Eastern neighbours, the priority remains fuller implementation of the trade-related provisions of the Partnership and Cooperation agreements. Accession to the WTO (or full implementation of the WTO accession agreement) along with continued economic reform are also of importance.