What is it?
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint policy initiative launched at the Prague Summit in May 2009. It aims to deepen and strengthen relations between the European Union and its six Eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The Eastern Partnership represents the Eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). It is based on shared values of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.
The commitment to the Eastern Partnership initiative and its objectives were reaffirmed at the Warsaw Summit in 2011 and the Vilnius Summit in 2013.
Fourth Eastern Partnership summit, Riga
On 20-22 May 2015, EU leaders met representatives of the Eastern Partnership partner countries at the fourth Eastern Partnership summit in Riga to reconfirm the importance the EU attaches to its Eastern Partnership.
Find out more about the summit here.
How does it work?
The Eastern Partnership has two tracks: (1) bilateral and (2) multilateral.
(1) The bilateral dimension supports political and socio-economic reforms in partner countries to:
- Foster political association and further economic integration with the EU;
- Enhance sector cooperation;
- Support mobility of citizens and visa-free travel as a long-term goal.
Bilateral cooperation programmes contribute to these objectives with focused assistance in the priority areas identified in each country's multi-annual programming document, and complementary support for the implementation of agreements with the EU that builds on the experience of the Comprehensive Institution Building programme.
Eastern neighbours can also benefit from additional assistance as a reward for progress in building deep and sustainable democracy (umbrella programme).
(2) The multilateral dimension complements bilateral relations with:
- Thematic platforms to exchange best practices on issues of mutual interest: good governance, economic integration and growth, energy security and transport, contacts between people;
- Flagship initiatives, which are regional cooperation programmes in the fields of: energy, environment, response to disasters, border management, support to small businesses.
Regional cooperation programmes support the multilateral dimension of the Eastern Partnership. They also address common challenges and trans-boundary issues (such as energy, transport or environment). The priority areas for multi-country cooperation are identified in the Regional East programming document.
Engagement with civil society is a key element of the Eastern Partnership. It is underpinned with initiatives like the Civil Society Forum, the Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility, and dedicated funding at regional and country level.
Eastern neighbours participate also in initiatives open to all Neighbour countries (Erasmus+, TAIEX, SIGMA and the Neighbourhood Investment Facility), and in cross-border cooperation programmes.
In the period of 2014-2020, the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) is the key EU financial instrument for cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries.
In 2007-2013, the funding came from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). Nearly €2.5 billion was made available for cooperation programmes with Eastern European Partners in 2010-2013. This included €350 million of additional funds made available when the Eastern Partnership was launched.