The Eastern Partnership was launched at a summit in Prague on 7 May 2009 with 33 participants (the 27 Member States and six Partner Countries: Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Belarus). The initiative aims to enhance and improve the EU's political and economic cooperation with this region from a long-term perspective.
The European Commission published a Communication on the Eastern Partnership at the end of 2008. In practice, the Eastern Partnership is covered by a multilateral framework including Council meetings every two years, a Foreign Ministers' Meeting each year and four thematic Platforms which were established after the Prague Summit and are supposed to meet twice a year.
DG Enterprise and Industry chairs the Platform on "Economic Integration and Convergence with EU Policies".
There are six areas of work listed in the Platform's work programme:
- Enterprise policy,
- Enhanced cooperation in the field of taxation and public finances,
- Labour market and social policies,
- Cooperation in questions of monetary, exchange and financial stability,
- Regional economic cooperation,
- Cooperation in the field of transport.
Meetings of the Platform on "Economic Integration and Convergence with EU Policies"
1. The first meeting on 26 June 2009 focused on issues such as the management of the economic crisis, regulatory cooperation and approximation as well as the environment and climate change. The Platform also introduced two Flagship Initiatives related to SME policy and environmental governance.
2. At the second Platform meeting on 9 November 2009, the OECD was invited as an ad hoc participant. The Platform agreed to focus, in the near term, on trade and trade-related regulatory cooperation, as a precondition for negotiations on deep and comprehensive free trade areas, the environment and climate change. Two panels were established - one to adress the core objectives of regulatory approximation across the whole spectrum of the EU acquis related to trade and investment, support and creating a network of bilateral Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas and involvement of the business community, and the second one to focus on towards EU environmental legislation and action to address climate change.
3. The third meeting, which took place on 27 May 2010, focused mainly on SME policy. The Platform was introduced to a cooperation project by DG Enterprise and Industry, OECD, ETF and EBRD to support private sector development in the region of the Partner Countries. The Platform established a Panel on SME policy issues covering also the implementation of the SME Flagship Initiative and the organisation of business to business contacts.
4. The fourth Platform meeting was held on 10 November 2010 and focused on cooperation in the field of transport, labour market and social policies, as well as taxation and public finance.
5. The fifth meeting of the Platform took place on 19 May 2011. It focused on cooperation in the field of labour market and social policies, macroeconomic and financial cooperation as well as regional economic cooperation.