The Eastern Partnership

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a policy initiative launched at the Prague Summit in May 2009 that aims to bring the 6 Eastern neighbours  - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine - closer to the EU. It represents the Eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and strengthens bilateral relations between the EU and its partners. It is based on shared values of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. It also encompasses support for a market economy, sustainable development and good governance.
The EU and partner countries leaders meet every other year in Eastern Partnership Summits.
The Joint Declaration of the EaP Summit in Riga, held in May 2015, emphasized the strategic importance of the Partnership as “one based on mutual interests and commitments and supporting sustained reform processes” in the Eastern Partner countries. The next Summit will take place in 2017.
The Partnership provides the framework for a stronger political engagement with the EU, namely:
  • a new generation of Association Agreements;
  • integration into the EU economy with deep free trade agreements;
  • easier travel to the EU through gradual visa liberalisation, accompanied by measures to tackle illegal immigration;
  • enhanced energy security arrangements;
  • increased financial assistance;
  • deeper cooperation on environment and climate issues;
  • increased people-to-people contacts and greater involvement of civil society.
On 27 June 2014, the EU signed Association Agreements (AA) with Georgia and the Republic of Moldova and completed the signature process with Ukraine, each providing for a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). The Agreements will significantly deepen political and economic ties between the EU and the three Eastern Partnership countries with a long-term perspective of closer political association and economic integration.
As for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, the EU has been applying a more tailored approach to relations with these countries in order to help ensure the inclusive nature of the Eastern Partnership taking into consideration the differences of the countries in the Eastern Neighbourhood, including when it comes to their foreign policy priorities. A new agreement is being negotiated with Armenia, whose political and economic cooperation with the EU will take account of Armenia's other international commitments. The EU is also considering entering a closer relationship with Azerbaijan, to better reflect the Union’s respective interests and values. With Belarus, the EU is deepening its critical engagement in carefully calibrated mutual steps.
The ENP review in November 2015 spelled out the EU's renewed approach to its eastern and southern neighbours. Under the revised ENP, stabilisation of the region, in political, economic, and security related terms, will be at the heart of the new policy. Moreover, the revised ENP puts a strong emphasis on two principles: the implementation of a differentiated approach to the EU’s Neighbours, to respect their different aspirations, and to better answer EU interests and the interests of its partners; and an increased ownership by partner countries and Member States.
How it works
The EU cooperates and supports EaP countries through bilateral and multilateral dimensions. The bilateral dimension supports political and socio-economic reforms in partner countries to:
  • Foster political association and further economic integration with the EU
  • Enhance sector cooperation
  • Support mobility of citizens and visa-free travel as a long-term goal.
The multilateral dimension complements bilateral relations with:
  • Thematic platforms to exchange best practices on issues of mutual interest: good governance, economic integration and growth, energy security and transport, contacts between people;
  • Flagship initiatives, which are regional cooperation programmes in the fields of: energy, environment, response to disasters, border management, support to small businesses.
This work is based on four thematic platforms, supported by various expert panels and a number of flagship initiatives. These initiatives seek to mobilise multi-donor support, funding from different International Financial Institutions and investment from the private sector:
There are four EaP main priority areas:
  • Mobility and people-to-people contacts
  • Market opportunities
  • Interconnections
  • Financial cooperation
Besides governments the EaP involves broader society. This is done through the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, the Conference of Local & Regional Authorities for the Eastern Partnership, the EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly and the EaP Business Forum.
In the period of 2014-2020, the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), worth over EUR 15 billion, is the key EU financial instrument for cooperation with the EaP countries.
In 2007-2013, the funding came from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). Nearly EUR 2.5 billion was made available for cooperation programmes with Eastern European Partners in 2010-2013. This included EUR 350 million of additional funds made available when the Eastern Partnership was launched.
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