Relations between the EU and Belarus
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The European Union remains committed to a policy of critical engagement with Belarus, seeking to build relations based on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The EU stands ready to assist Belarus in meeting its international obligations in this regard. In its relations with Belarus, the Union is governed by successive conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council. Most recently, Council Conclusions on Belarus were adopted in February 2016.
Following the parliamentary elections in Belarus in September 2016, the European Union called for a comprehensive electoral reform in Belarus as part of a broader democratisation process, which will be the key for unlocking the full potential of EU-Belarus relations. The EU underlined that it is committed to a stable, democratic and prosperous future of Belarus, for the benefit of the people of the country, and will continue its work with this objective firmly in mind.
The EU looks forward to conclusion of negotiations and signing of a visa facilitation agreement, readmission agreement with Belarus.
Belarus and the EU already maintain regular sectoral dialogues on economic and environmental issues, as well as energy and transport, and in 2015 the EU and Belarus resumed their Human Rights Dialogue. The EU would like to expand sectoral dialogues also to other areas, such as sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues, research and innovation, energy matters, as well as an enhanced dialogue on customs matters.
The EU seeks to work closely with Belarus, in a spirit of co-ownership and based on mutual interests in the framework of the renewed European Neighbourhood Policy.
Read also: EU-Belarus relations, fact sheet
In the context of the renewed European Neighbourhood Policy, in 2016 the EU doubled the package of bilateral assistance to Belarus to support private sector development and help strengthen institutions.
Programming of international assistance in Belarus is shaped by the National Programme of International Technical Co-operation. The 2012-2016 programmes continues the focus on the national priorities of (1) human development, improvement of level of life, social development and assistance; (2) sustainable economic growth through innovation, international cooperation, investment and resource and energy efficiency; (3) environment protection, ecological sustainability, rehabilitation of Chernobyl affected areas. Accordingly, the EU has defined the following broadly framed and interrelated priorities of development cooperation with Belarus for 2014-2017: social inclusion, environment, local and regional economic development.
Belarus participates in several regional projects funded by the EU, primarily in the fields of border management, environment, energy and transport. Higher education and vocational training is another important sphere of regional cooperation implemented mostly via Erasmus+. Programs of cross-border cooperation (Poland-Belarus-Ukraine, Latvia-Lithuania-Belarus) are important for regional cooperation on the local level.
One practical example of bilateral cooperation to foster people-to-people ties is MOST, a mobility program for young professionals.
TAIEX, the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument, is always open for Belarusian public administration agencies interested in studying the best European practices in a wide range of fields.
The EU is Belarus' second main trade partner after the Russian Federation. Belarus' exports to the EU are dominated by mineral fuels. Other product categories - such as chemicals, agricultural products, machinery and textiles - all form a much lower share. The EU exports mainly machinery, transport equipment and chemicals to Belarus.