Commissioner Füle: 5 years Eastern Partnership, time to show even stronger commitment

Now is the time to show an even stronger, more determined, and resolute commitment to the Eastern Partnership”, Commissioner for enlargement and European neighbourhood policy Štefan Füle said in Prague today, in his opening remarks to the Prague High Level Meeting marking the fifth the anniversary of the Eastern Partnership (EaP).
No one can doubt the EU's firm commitment to providing strong political and financial backing to Ukraine, said Füle identifying the crisis in Ukraine as the most serious crisis since 1945. We will always support and stand by those who are subject to undue pressures. We have risen to the challenge in Ukraine and reacted rapidly. Together with Ukraine, Russia and the US, we took part in quadrilateral talks on 17th April in Geneva.
At the same time, he added, we have taken a firm and united stance following the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, including sanctions against individuals responsible for undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Events today in Ukraine show that the relevance and necessity of the Eastern Partnership are clearer today than it has ever been. Because we are all going through an unprecedented period of change, and in times of change we need to work together and support each other”, stressed EC President Barroso in an address read by Füle on his behalf.
The Commissioner spoke at the international conference held at Czernin Palace in Prague to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the founding Prague Eastern Partnership Summit and discuss its prospective for the future. “5 years after its inaugural Summit here in Prague and despite the hurdles and challenges it was and still is forced to overcome, the EaP has survived and in many cases, flourished. The reason is quite simple: EaP is an evolving policy”.
Füle underlined the significant progress made over the past 5 years: our exchanges have greatly intensified; a multilateral track has been established; sector cooperation has been developed; stakeholders are playing a key part in our work.
“The signature of the political provisions of the Association Agreement (AA) and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with Ukraine on 21st March has set the ball in motion”, stressed the Commissioner. By June we expect signature of the AA/DCFTAs with Georgia and Moldova, rendering the process of political association and economic integration irreversible.
Differentiation is what makes the EaP unique. Negotiations on a Strategic Modernisation Partnership and on the Association Agreement are advancing with Azerbaijan. On Belarus we remain committed to our stated position. A reflection is underway on the scope for future EU-Armenia relations. Our mobility agenda is advancing. On 28th April, Moldovan citizens will be able to proceed to short term travel to the EU without the need for visas, something unthinkable a few years ago. Progress has been achieved in negotiations on the Visa Liberalisation Action Plans with Georgia and Ukraine.
With regards to funding, Füle recalled nearly €2.5 billion available for cooperation programmes with partners in 2010-2013 and a further € 4.1 billion leveraged from European Financial Institutions through the Neighbourhood Investment Facility.
For future of the EaP, he mentioned, among other:
·         greater differentiation in bilateral relations.
·         the importance that partners deliver on their own ambitions.
·         the need to be better equipped to react to crises.
·         engagement to be maintained at multilateral level and increased with broader society.(EU Neighbourhood Info)
Read more
Füle Speech
Barroso Speech
Eastern Partnership Five Years on: Time for a New Strategy? - Conference
European Endowment for Democracy - website
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre webpage - Eastern Partnership
Development and Cooperation - Eastern Partnership

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