What happens in the countries in Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus affects the European Union. Successive EU enlargements have brought these countries closer to the EU and their security, stability and prosperity increasingly impact on the EU’s. Closer cooperation between the EU and its Eastern European partners – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine – is a key objective of the EU's external relations.
The Eastern Partnership is a joint initiative of the EU, its Member States and the Eastern European partner countries. It provides for greater opportunity for those partner countries interested in doing so, to move towards the EU and increase political, economic and cultural links. The Partnership was launched in 2009 at a Summit held in Prague, in an effort by the EU and its Eastern European partners to help promote political and economic reforms and assist the countries of the region move closer to the EU. At its basis lies a shared commitment to international law and fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as to market economy, sustainable development and good governance
The EU has put forward concrete ideas for enhancing the relationship with each partner country on a differentiated basis. Support is provided on a bilateral as well as through a unique dialogue at the multilateral level.
A new generation of Association Agreements, replacing the Partnership and Co-Operation Agreements which were concluded with partner countries (with the exception of Belarus) in the late 1990s, is negotiated with some countries on an individual basis. In the case of Georgia and the Republic of Moldova the Association Agreements also contain provisions for establishing a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA).
The Partnership promotes democracy and good governance, strengthens energy security, promotes sector reform and environment protection, encourages people to people contacts, supports economic and social development and offers additional funding for projects to reduce socio-economic imbalances and increase stability.