The European Union announces a new assistance package of €79.8 million to boost socio-economic development and SMEs, youth employability and connectivity in the Eastern Partnership countries.
This includes bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan and Belarus focusing on economic diversification and the strengthening of institutions. This assistance is provided through the European Neighbourhood Instrument in the framework of the renewed European Neighbourhood policy.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: “Boosting economic development is one of the main priorities of the Eastern Partnership. This new funding will strengthen the resilience of our partners and will support the necessary structural reforms in order to tap into new sources of growth, generating employment. This together with our continued support to social inclusion will bring tangible results to citizens’ lives.”
In Belarus, the doubling of the bilateral assistance package in 2016 [from €14.5 million in 2015 to €29 million in 2016] is intended to support the country’s efforts to implement reforms and will allow for fresh support to regional and private sector development, migration and asylum management, and continued support to the European Humanities University.
In Azerbaijan, cooperation with the EU will continue to focus on the strengthening of economic diversification by enhancing the competitiveness and export opportunities of small and medium-sized businesses. The €13.5 million funding will also introduce alternative means of dispute resolution which will contribute to the improvement of the business environment.
In addition to bilateral assistance, five actions worth €37.3 million will support youth, SMEs, maritime safety and border management in the all of the Eastern Partnership countries. This new regional assistance package reflects the priorities agreed upon with the Neighbourhood East partner countries at the summit in Riga, as well as the provisions of the reviewed European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).