Launched at the Prague Summit in 2009, the Eastern Partnership has evolved; the substance of the policy has broadened, deepened and been adapted to changing realities. The partnership is based on shared ownership, differentiation and inclusivity.
The Association Agreements and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (AA/DCFTAs ), concluded in 2014, have brought the relations between the EU and Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine to a new level. The agreements are the most ambitious bilateral agreements signed by the EU. They aim at strengthened political association and economic integration. They represent the equivalent of around 70% of the EU acquis and they entail significant reforms that aim to bring the Partner Countries closer to the EU by aligning their legislation and standards to the EU ones. Most importantly, they have the objective of improving the lives of citizens in a tangible way. A notable example is the Visa liberalisation that entered into force for Georgia and with Ukraine in 2017 – in addition to the Republic of Moldova in 2014.
A Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the EU and Armenia entered into force on 1 March, 2021. The EU is also negotiating a new Framework Agreement with Azerbaijan, Belarus has participated actively in the multilateral formats since the beginning of the Eastern Partnership, but unilaterally suspended its participation. The current EU-Belarus relations are guided by the October 2020 Council Conclusions. The EU will maintain cooperation with Belarus within the Eastern Partnership multilateral framework at non-political level and intensify cooperation with key non-state Belarusian stakeholders, which represent Belarusian people and its democratic aspirations such as civil society, independent media and representatives of the opposition.
Over the years, the EaP has been instrumental in bringing the EU and the partner countries closer together. The EaP Summit in November 2017 marked a new approach with the adoption of a common reform agenda titled ’20 deliverables for 2020’. This ambitious work plan focused on delivering tangible results on the ground and improving the lives of people in four main policy areas: (1) stronger economy; (2) stronger governance; (3) stronger connectivity and (4) stronger society, together with targets for the cross-cutting issues of gender, civil society and strategic communication.
Discussions in the framework of the EaP multilateral architecture, where all six partners and EU Member states participate, help exchange best practices across these areas and develop regional cooperation.