While Partner Countries have different characteristics and diverse ambitions in their engagement with the EU, they also share important opportunities and challenges. In order to address these common elements, the multilateral dimension of the Eastern Partnership complements the EU's bilateral activities. It does so typically in areas which specifically require a transnational approach – e.g. border management, environment and climate change, migration or disaster prevention. At the same time, multilateral cooperation enables the exchange of best practices in areas such as the fight against corruption. The multilateral framework is aimed at fostering links and regional cooperation among partner countries and between them and the EU Member States.
The Multilateral Platforms
Policy issues in our main areas of cooperation are discusses in four thematic platforms. The platforms and the panels under them allow for target-oriented sessions with open discussions between stakeholders. A more detailed overview per platform is given below:
- Democracy, Good Governance and Stability;
- Economic integration and convergence with EU policies;
- Energy Security;
- Contacts between people.
Platform 1: Democracy, Good Governance and Stability
The Platform aims to improve governance in public administration, the civil service, the judiciary, management of state borders, combating corruption, elections, asylum and migration, cooperation on the Common Security and Defence Policy, civil protection, police cooperation and cybercrime. Furthermore, a series of specific Panels have been established under Platform 1:
- Public Administration Reform: aims at fostering cooperation with partners to make public administration more effective, improving civil service integrity and developing e-governance and data protection capacities. It also aims to promote local democracy, focusing on building support for reforms and receiving capacity for foreign assistance projects, sharing reform practices & analysing the main obstacles to sectoral reforms.
- Integrated Border Management: shares best practices in strengthening cooperation between customs and border services and improving the management of border crossing points.
- Rule of Law: facilitates exchange of information and best practices in the field of the judiciary reforms, building integrity, preventing and prosecuting corruption, and meeting international standards – especially those enshrined in relevant Council of Europe & UN conventions.
- Migration and Asylum: pursues dialogue and cooperation in the framework of the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) and assists partner countries in meeting the agreed reforms in bilateral Action Plans and Association Agendas.
- Common Security and Defence Policy: aims to develop a dialogue on political and practical aspects of participation by interested partner countries in EU CSDP missions and operations.
Platform 2: Economic integration and convergence with EU policies
Platform 2 aims at economic integration between partner countries and between them and the EU, as well as their convergence with relevant EU policies based on multilateral cooperation. Activities of Platform 2 and the corresponding Panels contribute to the smart, sustainable and inclusive development of a free market economy in Partner Countries. Designing policies for modern, social and environment-friendly economies provide jobs and growth and thus increase resilience and stability. The following Panels have been established under Platform 2:
- Business Development: facilitates exchange of best practices between Partner Countries and Member States to achieve sustainable economic development. This is done by improving the business environment, improving the access to finance and to new export markets, as well as by assisting small enterprises, start-ups and spin-offs to translate innovation into viable products. The EU4Business initiative provides financial support for achieving these goals. The Eastern Partnership Business Forum strengthens contacts between businesses and business support organisations in Partner Countries with their counterparts in the EU, as well as their dialogue with big investors (IFIs) and decision makers. Increasingly, Partner Countries also participate in the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME).
- Transport: aims to improve connections within and between Partner Countries as well as between the EU and its partners. The Panel helps partners to prepare and implement infrastructure projects (Eastern Partnership transport network) and share best practices on innovative infrastructure financing, efficient traffic management systems and increased transport safety and security.
- Environment & climate change: promotes sustainable economic development, environment protection and green economy. It was tasked by the Eastern Partnership Ministerial on Environment and Climate change (which took place in October 2016) to implement its declaration on cooperation and environment recommendations. While keeping participants up to date on the specific acquis and exchange best practices on its implementation, this panel contributes to modern environmental policy making, based on relevant, scientific data.
- Trade & related regulatory cooperation: focuses on quality control and certification for goods and services; on animal and plant health measures; on customs – facilitation of circulation of legally traded goods. The main aim of this panel is to promote trade between partners and between them and the European Union, especially for DCFTA partner countries.
- Agriculture & rural development: uses the EU countries' experience to help partners develop and implement modern, viable, sustainable farming and rural development strategies.
- Statistics: aims to exchange best practices in generating reliable statistics. The data collected can serve as a basis for good governance and decision-making in all policy areas and as a source of transparency for the monitoring of the policies implemented.
- Harmonisation of Digital Markets: aims at enabling individuals and businesses everywhere to seamlessly exercise online activities with a high level of protection of consumers and personal data. Harmonised digital markets will foster better online services at better prices, offer more choice and boost employment. To this end, the 2nd Eastern Partnership Digital Ministerial 5 October 2017 in Tallinn has adopted an ambitious Declaration whose implementation is foreseen towards the 2020 horizon and further supported by the EU4Digital initiative.
Platform 3: Energy Security
The Energy Security Platform aims at enhancing cooperation between the EU and partners in the strategic field of energy security, with the financial support of the EU4Energy initiative. More specifically, its core objectives are:
- Approximation of the regulatory framework: In order to increase security of supply, competitiveness and sustainability of the energy sector. Such approximation contributes to the creation of a homogeneous, stable and predictable legal framework in the regions, encouraging the large investments required in the energy sector. It increases the security of supply via by opening and liberalising energy markets.
- Development of electricity, gas and oil interconnections: Interconnectivity is key to the EU and the Eastern Partner Countries. The longer-term objective is to develop a common approach in the region. Approximation to and integration of European energy markets requires both a set of common rules in the energy sector and the construction of the necessary infrastructures.
- Increasing energy efficiency and use of renewable energy: National sources of renewable energy and improved energy efficiency can greatly contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to energy security by decreasing dependency on (imported) fossil fuels. Integrating large quantities of electricity generated from variable renewable sources may require certain adaptations to the generation, the transmission and the distribution systems. In many cases, a regional approach can optimise this process.
- Establishment and strengthening of a regulatory framework in nuclear safety: Several EU Member States and Eastern Partner Countries use nuclear energy and some others intend to do so in the near future. While this is a national decision, potential accidents could have grave consequences beyond borders. Therefore, a high level of nuclear safety is of interest to all.
- Exchange of expertise on conventional and unconventional oil and gas resources: The exchange of expertise is meant to maximise the safety and efficiency of operations and covers issues such as: safety and environmental standards for exploration and production activities, regulatory aspects for transparent access to oil and gas exploration, innovative technologies for oil and gas exploration and production, etc.
Platform 4: Contacts between people
This platform aims to create strong people-to-people contacts between the EU and the Partner Countries and between the Partner Countries themselves. Therefore, the platform works to increase participation of EaP Countries in EU programmes in the fields of education, research, innovation, youth, culture and creativity as well as information society. It also aims to foster cooperation between the EU and its partners' education and training authorities, higher education institutions, schools, research institutions, youth organisations, cultural organizations, etc. It also seeks to contribute to partners' capacity to implement policies in these areas and to enhance knowledge and exchange good practices amongst EU and Eastern partner stakeholders in these fields.
Panel on Research and Innovation – aims to boost and streamline the cooperation in the area of research and innovation, including EU and partner countries` policies and programmes (e.g. Horizon 2020, Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions).
For more information on past activities of the Multilateral Platforms you may wish to also consult their current 2014-201 work programmes below.
Current work programmes — 2014-2017: