Launched in 2009, the EaP is a strategic and ambitious partnership based on common values and rules, mutual interests and commitments, as well as shared ownership and responsibility. It aims to strengthen and deepen the political and economic relations between the EU, its Member States and the partner countries, as well as supports sustainable reform processes in countries of Eastern Partnership.   

As a specific Eastern dimension of the European Neighourhood Policy, the Eastern Partnership combines bilateral and multilateral tracks.

The Eastern Partnership contributes to the overall goal of increasing the stability, prosperity and resilience of the EU’s neighbours as set out in the Global Strategy for the foreign and security policy of the EU and the 2015 European Neighbourhood Policy Review.  It supports the delivery of many global policy objectives, including the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development goals. It is fully aligned with the European Commission’s Strategic Agenda 2019-2024. Finally, it reflects all relevant flagship strategies adopted by the Commission.

Background

Since the founding Prague Summit in 2009, the Eastern Partnership has evolved; the substance of the policy has broadened, deepened and been adapted to changing realities.

The Association Agreements and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (AA/DCFTAs), concluded in 2014, have brought the relations between the EU and Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine to a new level. The agreements aim at strengthened political association and economic integration. They entail significant reforms that aim to bring the Partner Countries closer to the EU by aligning their legislation and standards to the EU ones. Most importantly, they have the objective of improving the lives of citizens in a tangible way. A notable example is the Visa liberalisation that entered into force for Georgia and with Ukraine in 2017 – in addition to the Republic of Moldova in 2014.

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    Family photo Prague Summit 2009
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    Prague. Czechia. Family photo at the Prague Summit 2009.

Key Developments

As a result of the 2015 review of the ENP, which stressed ownership and differentiation of the policy, a more tailored approach was taken to relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. A Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the EU and Armenia entered into force on 1 March, 2021. The EU is also negotiating a new Framework Agreement with Azerbaijan, to better reflect our respective interests and values. Belarus has participated actively in the multilateral formats of the Eastern Partnership. In line with the October 2020 Council Conclusions, the EU will maintain cooperation with Belarus within the Eastern Partnership multilateral framework at non-political level and intensify cooperation with key non-state Belarusian stakeholders.

Over the years, the EaP has been instrumental in bringing the EU and the partner countries closer together. The EaP Summit in November 2017 marked a new approach with the adoption of a common reform agenda titled ’20 deliverables for 2020’. This ambitious work plan focused on delivering tangible results on the ground and improving the lives of people in four main policy areas: (1) stronger economy; (2) stronger governance; (3) stronger connectivity and (4) stronger society, together with targets for the cross-cutting issues of gender, civil society and strategic communication.

Discussions in EaP multilateral Platforms and Panels, where all six partners and EU Member states participate, help exchange best practices across these areas and develop regional cooperation.

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    Eastern Partnership logo

The EaP beyond 2020

In 2019, the Eastern Partnership celebrated its 10th anniversary. In this context, the President of the European Commission launched a structured consultation on the future of the Eastern Partnership. The European Council endorsed this approach in June and tasked the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission to develop a new set of long term policy objectives beyond 2020. 

The consultation was broad and inclusive, it ended on 31 October 2019. Over 200 contributions were submitted by nearly all Member States, all six partner countries, the European institutions, United Nations organisations, international financial institutions, youth stakeholders. Public authorities, civil society organisations and individual citizens contributed to the consultations.

Building on the current agenda of 20 deliverables for 2020, the structured consultation inputs, and extensive consultations in each of the 6 partner countries and many EU Member States, a new set of long-term policy objectives was presented in the Joint Communication “Reinforcing Resilience - an Eastern Partnership that delivers for all”, adopted on 18 March 2020.

This document outlines a proposal for long-term policy objectives for the Eastern Partnership beyond 2020 and sets out the measures that aim to strengthen resilience, foster sustainable development and deliver tangible results for society. Together with the Joint Communication, a Joint Staff Working Document contains a summary of the Structured Consultations as well as the latest monitoring report of the 20 deliverables for 2020.

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Multilateral architecture

The current multilateral architecture was revised and officially adopted at the 2017 EaP Summit (along with the ‘20 deliverables for 2020’), and it has been operational since 2018.

The 2019 consultation on the future of the EaP showed a clear consensus that the current structures were functional and fit for purpose, as well as the importance of the multilateral dimension of the EaP cooperation.

However, to accommodate the new priorities outlined in the Joint Communication of 18 March 2020 and the targets in Joint staff working document of 2 July 2021 as well as improve further streamlining, operational arrangements and flexibility, some adjustments are required. It is expected that suggested changes, outlines in Annex 2 of Joint staff working document of 2 July 2021 will be further discussed with EU Member States and partner countries in view of its validation at the EaP Summit in 2021.

Response to COVID-19

In the Eastern neighbourhood, as part of its global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the EU, together with the European Investment Bank, mobilised EUR 2,5 billion to support Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine in tackling the coronavirus health crisis and socio-economic recovery. Tailor-made COVID-19 response packages using a mix of existing funds and new funds are being mobilised in each of the six partner countries.

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    Photo of a vaccination dose being prepared