Delegation of the European Union to Algeria

Eastern Partnership

19/10/2016 - 11:49
EU relations with Region

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint initiative involving the EU, its Member States and six Eastern European Partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint initiative of the EU, its Member States and ArmeniaAzerbaijanBelarusGeorgia, the Republic of Moldova  and Ukraine (‘the partner countries’).

Launched in 2009, the EaP is a strategic and ambitious partnership based on common values and rules, mutual interests and commitments, as well as shared ownership and responsibility. It aims to strengthen and deepen the political and economic relations between the EU, its Member States and the partner countries, as well as supports sustainable reform processes in countries of Eastern Partnership.   

As a specific Eastern dimension of the European Neighourhood Policy , the Eastern Partnership combines bilateral and multilateral tracks.

The Eastern Partnership contributes to the overall goal of increasing the stability, prosperity and resilience of the EU’s neighbours in line with the EU policies. It supports the delivery of key global policy objectives, including the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development goals.

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 AzerbaijanBelarus 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.

In 2019, the Eastern Partnership celebrated its 10th anniversary. In this context, the President of the European Commission launched a structured consultation on the future of the Eastern Partnership. The European Council endorsed this approach in June and tasked the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission to develop a new set of long-term policy objectives beyond 2020. 

During the  broad and inclusive consultations in autumn 2019, over 200 contributions were submitted from EU Member States, partner countries as well as other stakeholders including the United Nations,  international financial institutions, youth representatives, civil society and individual citizens.

Building on the current agenda of 20 deliverables for 2020 and the outcomes of the extensive consultation,  a new set of long-term policy objectives was presented in the Joint Communication “Reinforcing Resilience - an Eastern Partnership that delivers for all”, adopted on 18 March 2020.

This document outlines a proposal for long-term policy objectives for the Eastern Partnership beyond 2020 and sets out the measures that aim to strengthen resilience, foster sustainable development and deliver tangible results for society. Together with the Joint Communication, a Joint Staff Working Document contains a summary of the Structured Consultations as well as the last monitoring report of the 20 deliverables for 2020.

The Joint Communication was acknowledged by the Council in its Council Conclusions on 11 May 2020.

To mark the strategic importance of the Partnership, also in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, a video conference with the leaders of the EU Member States and EaP partner countries was organised on 18 June 2020, preceded by a Foreign Affairs Ministerial call on 11 June 2020.

In both calls the EU Member States and EaP Partner Countries expressed their mutual support and solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic. They reconfirmed their commitment to the EaP as well as its fundamentals.

Looking to the future, participants welcomed the five policy objectives outlined in the Joint Communication and Council Conclusions as well as the overarching focus on resilience, as basis for the post 2020 policy framework. Furthermore, the Leaders video conference provided the groundwork to develop a new set of deliverables to be endorsed at the 6th Eastern Partnership Summit in December, 2021.

On 2 July, 2021, the European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy outlined a proposal on how to take forward priorities for cooperation with Eastern partners for years to come in the Joint Staff Working Document: Recovery, Resilience and Reform: post-2020 Eastern Partnership priorities, underpinned by an Economic and Investment Plan. The comprehensive agenda structured according to two pillars: investment and governance.

The EU, its Member States and the partner countries will work together on the following Eastern Partnership objectives:

  • together for resilient, sustainable and integrated economies;
  • together for accountable institutions, the rule of law and security;
  • together towards environmental and climate resilience;
  • together for a resilient digital transformation;
  • together for resilient, fair and inclusive societies.

The current multilateral architecture was revised and officially adopted at the 2017 EaP Summit (along with the ‘20 deliverables for 2020’), and it has been operational since 2018.

The 2019 consultation on the future of the EaP showed a clear consensus that the current structures were functional and fit for purpose, as well as the importance of the multilateral dimension of the EaP cooperation.

However, to accommodate the new priorities outlined in the Joint Communication of 18 March 2020 and the targets in Joint staff working document of 2 July 2021 as well as improve further streamlining, operational arrangements and flexibility, some adjustments are required. It is expected that these proposals will be further discussed with EU Member States and partner countries in view of the EaP Summit in 2021.

In the Eastern neighbourhood, as part of its global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the EU, together with the European Investment Bank, mobilised EUR 2,5 billion to support Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine in tackling the coronavirus health crisis and socio-economic recovery. Tailor-made COVID-19 response funding is being mobilised in each of the six partner countries.

At regional level, EU institutions are working closely with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and financing institutions from EU Member States as Team Europe, to provide funding for socio-economic recovery. The EU has also mobilised €75 million to strengthen preparedness and readiness for safe and effective vaccination of the population and to provide COVID-19 vaccines through vaccine sharing by EU Member States.