A Need for Cred­i­ble EU Strat­egy for the Eastern Part­ner­ship

16 July, 2020

Authors: Paata Gaprindashvili, Mariam Tsitsikashvili

Launched in 2009, the Eastern Part­ner­ship (EaP) has been instru­men­tal in bring­ing the EU and the six partner coun­tries (Armenia, Azer­bai­jan, Belarus, Georgia, Repub­lic of Moldova and Ukraine) closer together. Despite sig­nif­i­cant exter­nal and inter­nal chal­lenges along the road, thus far the policy has demon­strated its ability to promote greater sta­bil­ity, pros­per­ity and resilience at the EU’s eastern fron­tier.

The part­ner­ship has sought to develop accord­ing to the inter­ests, ambi­tions and progress of each partner, marked by Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ments (AA), includ­ing the Deep and Com­pre­hen­sive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) as well as visa-free regimes with three partner coun­tries (Georgia, Ukraine, Repub­lic of Moldova – the EU Asso­ci­ated Trio) together with a Com­pre­hen­sive and Enhanced Part­ner­ship Agree­ment with Armenia and a tailor-made engage­ment with Azer­bai­jan and Belarus. The part­ner­ship has inclu­sively deliv­ered for all: EU-EaP trade has nearly doubled, turning the partner coun­tries as a group into the EU’s tenth largest trading partner, cre­at­ing or sus­tain­ing more than 250,000 jobs and enabling over 125,000 SMEs to benefit directly from EU funding.[1]

Crisis is the best test of friend­ship, and the EU has suc­cess­fully passed this test by swiftly holding out a helping hand to its EaP part­ners during the coro­n­avirus out­break. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has mobilised an emer­gency support package for its EaP part­ners, com­pris­ing €80 million for imme­di­ate needs and up to €900 million in support for their short and medium term social and eco­nomic recov­ery.[2]

The EaP will even­tu­ally play much more sig­nif­i­cant role for the EU polit­i­cally, eco­nom­i­cally and in terms of secu­rity, perhaps even a greater role than that of the Western Balkans. The success of trans­for­ma­tion and democ­ra­ti­sa­tion in the EaP can offer up a pos­i­tive example for other coun­tries in the wider Eurasian con­ti­nent, not to mention the fact that the EaP is key to the EU’s access to Central Asia.

The article was written in the framework of the project “Eastern Partnership 2.0” led by the Center for Liberal Modernity. The article was originally published on https://libmod.de/a-need-for-credible-eu-strategy-for-the-eastern-partnership/