What is it?
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint policy initiative which aims to deepen and strengthen relations between the European Union (EU), its Member States and its six Eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
In this framework, guiding the EU's relations with its neighbours is the EU’s Global Strategy and the revised European Neighbourhood Policy which call on the need to focus on increasing the stabilisation and resilience of the EU's Eastern neighbours.
Within this framework, there is a joint commitment to deliver tangible results for citizens across the region. In support of a more results-oriented approach towards the Eastern Partnership, the European Commission and European External Action Service identified 20 key deliverables for 2020, with milestones to be achieved by the next EaP Summit taking place in Brussels in November 2017.
In order to achieve these objectives, cooperation has been based on four key priority areas agreed at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga in 2015:
- Economic development and market opportunities;
- Strengthening institutions and good governance;
- Connectivity, energy efficiency, environment and climate change;
- Mobility and people-to-people contacts.
A structured engagement with a wider range of civil society organisations, furthers gender equality and non-discrimination, as well as clearer and tailor-made strategic communications are also being pursued as across all areas.
This new strategic work-plan aims to guide the work of the EU, its Member States and the six Partner countries until 2020, building on the joint objectives agreed upon since the launch of the Eastern Partnership at the Prague Summit in May 2009
In a wider context, the EaP also supports delivery on key global policy goals set by the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
How does it work?
The overall framework guiding relations between the EU and its six Eastern Partners is provided by the relevant bilateral agreements, such as the Association Agreements, as well as the Association Agendas and the Partnership Priorities and the EaP 20 Deliverables for 2020 aligned along the four key priority areas.
To ensure a broadly streamlined approach, the new multi-annual assistance frameworks for the period 2017/2018-2020 are being designed in an inclusive manner between the EU, its Member States and the six Partner countries to act as a work plans guiding the actions until 2020, supporting delivering under existing commitments, and allowing for an easier monitoring of progress.
Supporting the comprehensive approach by the EU towards its Eastern partners is the European Neighbourhood Instrument, which is the key EU financial instrument for cooperation with the EaP countries during the period of 2014-2020.
This is then supported through the relevant dialogues, both at bilateral level, such as the Association Council, as well as at multilateral level through thematic Platforms and Panels of the Eastern Partnership.
Eastern neighbours also participate in initiatives open to all Neighbourhood countries – such as Erasmus+, TAIEX, Twining, SIGMA and the Neighbourhood Investment Facility - and in Cross-Border Cooperation programmes.
The Eastern Partnership Summit
The 5th Eastern Partnership Summit took place on 24 November in Brussels with leaders focussing on the way in which the initiative can continue to be a Partnership of added value for citizens across the continent. The leaders discussed a forward-looking agenda, the 20 deliverables for 2020, which span the four focus areas of the Eastern Partnership: stronger economy; stronger governance; stronger connectivity; and stronger society.