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About the Eastern Partnership

Eastern Partnership (EaP) – a project initiated by Poland and further development in cooperation with Sweden. It was presented to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland and Sweden during the Council of the EU General Affairs and Foreign Policy in Brussels, May 26, 2008. The Eastern Partnership was discovered by the European Union in Prague, 7 May 2009.

First Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in the context of the Eastern Partnership was held December 8, 2009 in Brussels.
Eastern Partnership planned to complement the Northern Dimension and the Union for the Mediterranean through the institutional forum for the presentation of discussing visa agreements, free trade agreements and strategic partnerships with the EU’s eastern neighbors, avoiding the contentious issue of accession to the EU. Geographically, the project is focused on Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

The European Union (EU) has a vital interest in seeing stability, better governance and economic development at its Eastern borders. At the same time, its partners in Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus all seek to intensify their relations with the EU. The Eastern Partnership (EaP) builds on the achievement of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which has been developed since 2004. The ENP is addressed to 16 Southern and Eastern neighbours and its objective is to strengthen security and stability as well as to avoid new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours.

The recent EU enlargements have decreased geographic distance and established a common border with three of the Eastern neighbours. Reforms supported by the ENP have brought these countries politically and economically closer to the EU. In December 2008 the European Commission put forward a proposal for the Eastern Partnership (EaP) – a specific Eastern dimension of the ENP embracing relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine that would send them a clear political message of EU solidarity, alongside additional support for their democratic and market-oriented reforms and the consolidation of their statehood and territorial integrity. The guiding principle of the new initiative is to offer the maximum possible, taking into account political and economic realities and the state of reforms of each partner concerned.

In May 2009 in Prague, the EaP was launched with the ambitious aim of putting into effect a political association and economic integration between the EU and Eastern Partners. This would imply new association agreements including deep and comprehensive free trade areas and gradual integration in the EU economy. It would also allow for easier travel to the EU through gradual visa liberalisation, accompanied by measures to tackle illegal immigration.

Goals of the Eastern Partnership

The goals of the Eastern Partnership are to:

1. Bring the Partner countries closer to the EU both politically and economically

2. Promote security, stability and good governance

3. Foster partnership of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and governments in partner countries

4. Encourage people to people contacts through visa liberalisation in the long term and on a case-by case basis, once the necessary preconditions have been met

5. Strengthen energy security

6. Promote sector reform and environmental protection

Values of the Eastern Partnership

The Eastern Partnership is based on commitments to the principles of international law and to fundamental values (notably those enshrined in Council of Europe conventions) including:

– Democracy and rule of law

– Respect for human rights & basic freedoms

– Free market economy with sustainable development

How does Eastern Partnership work?

The EaP includes two tracks: bilateral and multilateral. The bilateral track is designed to create a closer relationship between the EU and each of the Partner countries. It includes the upgrading of contractual relations towards association agreements; the prospect of negotiating deep and comprehensive free trade areas, progressive visa liberalisation in a secure environment; deeper co-operation to enhance the energy security of the partners and the EU; and support for economic and social policies designed to reduce disparities within each partner country and across borders. Comprehensive Institution-Building programmes are being prepared in order to improve the capacity of each partner to undertake the necessary reforms.

The multilateral track provides a new framework for cooperation and exchange of best practice.

Four EaP thematic platforms chaired by the European Commission allow for target-oriented sessions and serve for open and free discussions.

The four areas of co-operation are:

1. Democracy, good governance and stability

2. Economic integration and convergence with EU policies

3. Environment, climate change and energy security

4. Contacts between people

Each platform has adopted a set of realistic core objectives which actively contribute to the Eastern Partnership. Work programmes have been adopted to address these objectives, with a review process built into the plan.

For further information on EaP Platforms, click on the following link

Flagship Initiatives

In addition, the EaP has launched flagship initiatives, which are specific programmes aimed to support objectives of the EaP and achieve tangible results:

– Integrated Border Management Programme

– SME Facility

– Regional electricity markets, improved energy efficiency and increased use of renewable

– energy sources

– Prevention of, preparedness for, and response to natural and man-made disasters

– Promotion of good environmental governance

To obtain more information about the EaP Flagship Initiatives, please see the following link

Funding

In line with the March 2009 Eastern Partnership Declaration, adopted by the European Council, increased EU financial support is provided serving the goals of the Eastern Partnership.

To address the new co-operation needs specifically linked to the launch of the Eastern Partnership, the Commission has earmarked € 600 million for the period 2010-2013, including € 350 million of fresh funds. However, all funds made available through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument for the six Partner Countries should be seen as supporting the Eastern Partnership.

To learn more about the concrete EaP projects, please see the following link

Meeting Schedule

Meetings of Heads of State and Government of the Eastern Partnership is held every two years. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs will meet every year. These high-level meetings will move and shape the Eastern Partnership further.

The four EaP thematic platforms have regular (6-monthly) target-oriented sessions which allow for open and free discussion and the formulation of recommendations.
Under each platform, experts meet in panels to discuss specific issues. To date several panels have been established:

– Panel on Integrated Border Management

– Panel on Anti-Corruption

– Panel on Judiciary Reform

– Panel on Reform of Public Administration

– Panel on Trade

– Panel on SME Policy

– Panel on Environment and Climate Change

– Panel on Migration and Asylum

– Panel on Agriculture and Rural Development

To check when the platform or the panel meets, please follow the EaP calendar, which can be found here