Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, and Prime Minister of Armenia, Tigran Sargsyan, signed two new financing agreements between the European Union and Armenia in Yerevan on Thursday.
Totalling €43 million, the two agreements focus on institution building and will support the negotiations and implementation of the future EU-Armenia bilateral agreements: the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area and Visa Facilitation/Readmission Agreement.
“I believe we are preparing the ground for an Armenia which is a state with more citizen-friendly institutions, an attractive investment destination and better conditions for those businesses which want to take advantage of new market opportunities,” Commissioner Füle said after signing the documents.
EU bilateral assistance to Armenia under the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument is €157 million for 2011-2013, double the amount for the previous period. On top of that, an additional € 15 million have recently been allocated under the More for More principle. “The more reforms Armenia carries out the more the EU will be able to support it. Already today, EU support for Armenia has reached unprecedented levels” Commissioner Füle stated referring to the financial allocation so far.
Through the financing agreements signed in Yerevan on Thursday, we will support Armenia’s Sustainable Development Programme, focusing on several sector specific strategies such as Customs Administration, Quality infrastructure, Food Safety and e-governance. The expected results should have a direct bearing on the key milestones set for the bilateral co-operation under the Eastern Partnership:
- Introduction of biometric passports will help Armenia to meet a key condition of visa liberalization;
- improved data protection will open the way to deepened co-operation in justice, freedom and security;
- improvements in the legal framework for public procurement will help Armenia along the road to new opportunities for tendering for public contracts on European Union markets.
During the period 2011 – 2013, the EU’s priority areas of cooperation with Armenia focus on improving democratic structures and good governance and facilitating trade, investment and socio-economic reform.
The basis for the Financing Agreements signed today is the ENPI Annual Action Programme 2011, worth €43.1 million and composed of two actions:
“Framework Programme in support of the EU-Armenia agreement” – €19.1 million
A central part of the EU support package channelled through the Eastern Partnership Comprehensive Institution Building (CIB) initiative.
The Comprehensive Institutional Building supports partner countries in reforming those institutions in their country which are essential to negotiate and implement bilateral relations with the EU: Association Agreement, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), and Visa Facilitation/Readmission Agreement.
In Armenia, this support will address the Institutional Reform Plans prepared by the government on three key reform challenges: (1) preparing for the negotiations of the Association Agreement between the EU and Armenia, (2) advancing reforms in justice, liberty and security and (3) preparing for the negotiations of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
“Support to the Government of Armenia for the implementation of the ENP Action Plan and the preparation for the future Association Agreement” – €24 million
The second major component of the EU assistance to Armenia, channelled via budget support programme, will focus on the implementation of the ENP Action Plan and reforms related to Public Finance Management and public sector transparency and performance, including e-governance. It will also assist further alignment of the Armenian trade regulations to the EU norms and standards.