On 3 December the European Commission adopted its Communication on the Eastern Partnership which opens an ambitous new chapter in the EU's relations with its Eastern neighbours. This proposal for a new Partnership represents a step change in the EU’s relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus (the level of Belarus’ participation in the Eastern Partnership will depend on the overall development of EU — Belarus relations), Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
This ambitious Partnership foresees a substantial upgrading of the level of political engagement, including the prospect of a new generation of Association Agreements, far-reaching integration into the EU economy, easier travel to the EU for citizens providing that security requirements are met, enhanced energy security arrangements benefitting all concerned, and increased financial assistance.
The EU proposes much more intensive day to day support for partners' reform efforts through a new Comprehensive Institution Building programme, and a new multilateral dimension which will bring partners together to address common challenges.
In the field of culture, the Communication takes up the strategic, forward looking approach of the June 2008 European Council Conclusions ("The EU has specifically recognised the value of cultural cooperation and inter-cultural dialogue as an integral part of all external policies and, has underlined the importance of cultural cooperation in addressing political processes and challenges").
Moreover, the Staff working document makes reference to two new tools to be developed: a specific Eastern Partnership Culture Programme and an ENP Window to be created under the Culture Programme as of 2011 covering the whole ENP region.