The Eastern Partnership is the foreign policy of the European Union, which includes 28 EU member states and 6 Eastern European countries – Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Armenia. The initiative was formally launched at the Eastern Partnership Summit, Prague, on May 7, 2009.

History of the Eastern Partnership

In 2004, along with the enlargement of the European Union to 10 countries, the EU developed the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). It covered the EU’s sixteen neighbors – Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, and Tunisia. The purpose of the ENP was to promote the stability and security of neighboring countries, as well as the economic development of their regions. In May 2008, Poland and Sweden proposed a new initiative for cooperating with post-Soviet countries, the Eastern Partnership (EaP). This was facilitated by several factors – the demand of Eastern European countries for deeper integration with the EU, the Union’s internal need to strengthen the eastern direction of foreign policy, and the security situation in the region. The Russian invasion of Georgia accelerated this process, and on May 7, 2009, the Eastern Partnership initiative, as an integral part of the European Neighborhood Policy, was fully launched at the Prague Summit.

The essence of the Eastern Partnership

The separation of the East from the ENP demarcated the EU’s foreign policy in relations with the EU’s southern and eastern neighbors. Ukraine saw this process as a greater opportunity for integration with the European Union. After all, according to Article 49 of the Treaty of Lisbon, any European country has the prospect of EU membership, provided that they meet the necessary criteria.

The Eastern Partnership initiative did not provide membership in the EU for member states but did not define the format of future relations between the Union and the East. Thus, some European countries saw this initiative as a certain preparatory stage for EU membership in the post-Soviet space, while others saw it as an opportunity to postpone candidate status for a certain period.

The main goal of the East is to promote political and economic reforms in partner countries through:

• Сoncluding an Association Agreement;

• Сreation of a Free Trade Area (FTA);

• Visa Liberalization with the EU;

• Maintaining Stability and Security in the Region;

• Development of the Energy Sector;

• Environmental Protection.

The implementation of the Eastern Partnership initiatives is based on the principles of differentiation, shared responsibility, and a “more for more” approach (deeper reforms strengthen EU support). These principles apply not only to financial assistance but also to the possibility of a closer political association, deeper economic integration with the EU’s internal markets.

The European Union seeks to build strong and mutually beneficial relations with all six countries of the East, taking into account the ambitions of each. However, differences in EU policy between Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Armenia contribute to the differentiation of these countries within the EaP. The first three countries signed the Association Agreement/DCFTA. Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia have received a visa-free regime with the EU. These agreements require countries to approximate national legislation to EU norms, which deepens the three countries’ relations with the EU and brings them to a new level. At the same time, the domestic and foreign policy conditions of Armenia, Belarus, and Azerbaijan need a more exclusive approach to relations with the EU.

How the Eastern Partnership works

The Eastern Partnership includes two formats (tracks) in the relations of the East member states with the EU – bilateral and multilateral.

The bilateral format is designed to bring the EU closer to each of the Eastern Partnership countries separately. This track provides for the modernization of legal relations between the East and the EU in the direction of political association and economic integration (Association Agreement and the establishment of a Free Trade Area), visa liberalization, cooperation in energy security, environmental, social policy, and more.

The multilateral track is an auxiliary format for a bilateral track. It facilitates cooperation and exchange of experience between partner countries in carrying out internal reforms, strengthening stability in the region, and resolving “protracted conflicts”. This format is implemented at several levels:

Summits with the participation of leaders of states, governments of EU member states, and partner countries – are held every two years.

– The first summit was held on May 7, 2009, in Prague, Czech Republic;

– The second summit – September 29-30, 2011 in Warsaw, Poland;

– The third summit – November 28-29, 2013 in Vilnius, Lithuania;

– The fourth summit – May 21-22, 2015 in Riga, Latvia;

– The fifth summit – 24 November 2017 in Brussels, Belgium;

– The sixth summit – June 18, 2020, online.

Meeting of EU and partner countries’ Foreign Ministers, annually takes place in Brussels

The meetings assess the progress made and discuss prospects for further development of relations. The main goals and work programs of the multilateral thematic platforms of the Eastern Partnership are approved. During a meeting in May 2016, diplomats agreed that the East should focus on achieving concrete results. Thus, in December 2016, the European Commission and the European External Action Service published a joint working document on 20 key priorities of the EaP – “Eastern Partnership – focusing on key priorities and concrete achievements”. He identified the intermediate results that are planned to be achieved before the Eastern Summit in 2017, the goals of work until 2020, the roadmap for the implementation of the outlined tasks, and all parties involved in this process. The key priority areas for cooperation for the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries were also identified:

– Economic development and market opportunities:

– Institution building and good governance:

– Combination, energy efficiency, environment, and climate change:

– Mobility and contacts between people.

 Thematic platforms of the Eastern Partnership

Thematic platforms, which take place at least twice a year, exchange experiences between partner countries on internal reforms and establish links between experts from the Eastern Partnership countries. The platforms are accountable to meetings of Foreign Ministers.

There are the following thematic platforms:

PLATFORM 1: Strengthening Institutions and Good Governance – addresses issues of democracy and human rights; justice and home affairs; security and stability. Curator on the Ukrainian side – the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.

PLATFORM 2: Economic Development and Market Opportunities – considers trade and regulatory convergence; socio-economic development; environment and climate change. Curator on the Ukrainian side – the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, and Agriculture.

PLATFORM 3: Connectivity, Energy Efficiency, Environment and Climate Change– considers strengthening solidarity; supporting infrastructure development, interconnections, and supply diversification; harmonization of energy policies. Curator on the Ukrainian side – the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine.

PLATFORM 4: Mobility and People to People Contacts – consider issues of culture; education and science; information society and media. Curator on the Ukrainian side – Committee on Ukraine’s Integration into the European Union.

Within the framework of the multilateral dimension of the EaP, some practical projects (flagship initiatives) and expert panels (working groups) are being implemented to support the work of thematic platforms in specific areas with the support of the European Commission. The initiatives are supported by various donors, international financial institutions, and the private sector. The results of their elaboration are presented at the meetings of the relevant thematic platforms.

The current flagship initiatives are:

1) Small and medium business;

2) Energy;

3) Environment;

4) Preparation for the consequences of natural and man-made disasters and their prevention;

5) Integrated border management;

6) Sustainable municipal development.

The multilateral track provides for an informal dialogue at the level of foreign ministers, sectoral ministers of partner countries, and EU commissioners, where the issues of multilateral sectoral cooperation and general development of the East are discussed.

A feature of the Eastern Partnership is the broad involvement of the public in the implementation of the EaP initiatives through the Civil Society Forum. The purpose of the Forum is to develop contacts between non-governmental organizations and promote their dialogue with public authorities. The Forum operates on the principle of the already mentioned thematic platforms of the multilateral dimension of the EaP and receives financial support from the European Commission. The national platforms of the Forum have been formed in each of the partner countries. The Ukrainian national platform of the Forum unites more than 140 non-governmental organizations. The opinion of civil society is taken into account through specific recommendations and proposals addressed to government bodies, representatives of partner countries and EU members, international organizations, etc. In addition, the EaP promotes the establishment of expert NGOs in member countries to address specific problems in the countries.

In the EaP, the cooperation at the parliamentary level is implemented with the help of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Eastern Partnership – EURONEST. It consists of parliamentarians from the European Parliament, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and provides an exchange of experience between EU countries and members of the EaP. Belarus does not currently participate in EURONEST meetings for political reasons related to the democracy in the country.

Cooperation between the EU regions and the regions of the Eastern Partnership countries takes place at the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP). CORLEAP consists of 36 representatives (18 representatives of the European Committee of the Regions and 18 representatives of local and regional authorities of the EaP countries: 3 representatives from each of the 6 EaP countries).

EU programs and initiatives within the EaP:

Community-Led Urban Strategies in Historic Towns (COMUS) is a joint initiative of the EU and the Council of Europe that supports historic cities to stimulate their socio-economic development through the protection and management of cultural and historical heritage.

Creative Europe – the program aims to develop the cultural sector and creative industries in European countries, strengthen the competitiveness of European audiovisual products, and protect cultural and linguistic diversity. The National Bureau of the Creative Europe Ukraine program has been established based on the Ukrainian Center for Cultural Studies.

Culture and Creativity – the EU and Eastern Partnership program aimed at supporting the cultural and creative sectors and increasing their contribution to the sustainable humanitarian and socio-economic development of the EaP countries.

Covenant of Mayors – Demonstration Projects (CoM-DeP) – the EU program developed at the level of the European Commission to support cities and implement energy efficiency projects identified in the Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP). The program aims to increase the technical and financial capacity of municipalities.

• Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG initiative) – the initiative aimed at supporting cooperation between local authorities, business, and civil society to stimulate economic development and create new jobs.

• EU4Business – the initiative of the European Commission, which brings together EU-funded programs aimed at supporting SME development, improving the business environment in the Eastern Partnership region, and greater integration into EU markets.

• EU4Youth – the program aims to involve active youth in society, expand their employment opportunities and promote their leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

• EU4Energy – the initiative aims to help and improve energy legislation in the EaP countries, and attract investment in key infrastructure projects of strategic importance.

Erasmus + is the EU’s flagship program to support the education and training of young people in Europe and beyond, enabling them to study, improve their skills, and volunteer abroad. The National Erasmus + Office in Ukraine project assists in implementing TEMPUS and ERASMUS + programs in higher education in Ukraine.

Improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea (EMBLAS) – the project aims to address environmental issues and monitor the marine environment, as well as collect data on the Black Sea state.

Horizon 2020 is the European Union’s largest science and innovation funding program with a total budget of around € 80 billion. It should help to increase innovative technologies, discoveries, and promising developments by bringing ideas from research laboratories to market.

SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management) is a joint initiative of the OECD and the EU. Its goal is to strengthen public administration in areas such as administration, public procurement, the fight against corruption, and external and internal financial control.

Twinning – an instrument of institutional cooperation of the European Union, which includes cooperation at the level of civil servants, public authorities of EU member states, and Ukraine, which should improve the functioning of public authorities and facilitate the adaptation of national legislation to EU norms and standards.

TAIEX – a technical assistance tool of the European Commission, which provides support to public authorities for the approximation and application of EU law, as well as the exchange of experience on EU best practices.

• Integrated Border Management (IBM) is the EU’s flagship initiative to pass on best practices to EaP countries in border management and protection through improved cooperation at national, cross-border, and international levels.

Cross Border Cooperation (CBC) – the EU program aimed at strengthening cooperation at EU borders between EU members and partner countries, improving mobility for people and goods, addressing environmental and security issues.

INOGATE – the EU technical assistance program in the energy sector. It contributes to strengthening the security of energy supply, convergence with the EU energy market, diversification of energy supplies, and the development of renewable energy sources.

In addition, other projects and programs can be found at http://www.euneighbours.eu/ru/east/eu-in-action/projects/all

Useful links of Eastern Partnership

• European Neighborhood Policy Information Center

The Eastern Partnership section of the European Union External Action Service website

Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Georgian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Moldovan National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Belarusian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Azerbaijan National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Institutions of the European Union

European Council

European Parliament

European Commission

European External Action Service

• European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM)

Eurostat, statistical office of the EU

Eurobarometer, EU sociological service

Delegations of the EU in the Eastern Partnership countries

Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine

Delegation of the European Union to Georgia

Delegation of the European Union to Armenia

Delegation of the European Union in Azerbaijan

Delegation of the European Union in Belarus

Delegation of the European Union in the Republic of Moldova