Eastern Partnership – ten basic facts on the tenth anniversary
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is part of the European Union’s foreign policy pursued under the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Global Strategy. It aims at forging regional cooperation and closer relations between the EU and its Eastern European partners. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Programme. Below you will find ten basic facts about the Eastern Partnership.
1. Eastern European Partner Countries
The Eastern Partnership involves six Eastern Partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
2. Origins of the Programme
The idea of supporting regional cooperation and closer relations with the Eastern European states was initiated by Poland and Sweden at the European Council summit in June 2008. The initiative was supported by the European Commission and the EU Member States. The Programme was officially launched on 7 May 2009 in Prague at the summit of heads of state and government from the EU and Partner countries.
3. First goal: stronger state institutions and good governance
The Eastern Partnership focuses on five priority areas. The first goal is to improve the quality of state institutions by supporting reforms in public administration, civil service, and the judiciary, and by fighting corruption. It also involves collaboration in the area of the Common Security and Defence Policy.
4. Second goal: stronger economy
The Eastern Partnership seeks to ensure macroeconomic stability across the region by improving business environment, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, ensuring equal labour market opportunities, bridging development gaps between regions, as well as developing the digital market. The main instruments to achieve these goals are the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements signed with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Their implementation is one of the most important tasks facing Partner countries.
5. Third goal: better mobility and people-to-people contacts
The Eastern Partnership means to strengthen contacts between citizens. It involves mainly further visa facilitation measures, strengthening youth exchange, and creating new jobs for young people. The idea is also to integrate research and development policies, and to foster cultural cooperation.
6. Fourth goal: connectivity
This strategy involves the expansion of both hard connectivity (transport, energy, digital interconnections, countering climate change, environmental protection), and soft connectivity (standards, good practices, etc.). Joint efforts are made to create connections between the EU and EaP countries in terms of law and infrastructure, which enable closer cooperation at the level of societies, economies, and politics.
7. Fifth goal: cross-cutting deliverables
The Eastern Partnership encourages civil society to be more involved in developing closer links, increasing gender equality, fighting discrimination, strengthening strategic communication and supporting the plurality and independence of the media.
8. How it works
The Eastern Partnership countries maintain their cooperation in five key dimensions by bilateral initiatives, multilateral actions, non-governmental measures (private sector, civil society, youth, media) and parliamentary exchange. Relations between individual Partner countries and the EU are shaped in line with their interests and ambitions, and reflect the level of their engagement with the EU.
EaP summits are held every two years at the level of heads of state and government from the EU and the six Partner countries plus representatives of EU institutions. So far, the summits took place in Prague (2009), Warsaw (2011), Vilnius (2013), Riga (2015) and Brussels (2017).
9. Poland's involvement in the Eastern Partnership
As an initiator of the Eastern Partnership and a country with strong ties with the region, Poland is deeply committed to strengthening relations between the European Union and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. The Academy of Public Administration is the Eastern Partnership’s flagship project implemented by Poland. Between 2011 and 2018, 504 civil servants took part in 28 courses, including 134 officials from Ukraine, 138 from Georgia, 92 from Moldova, 53 from Belarus, 44 from Azerbaijan, and 43 from Armenia. Poland also provides practical development assistance to the EaP countries by supporting measures for good governance, human capital, media pluralism, entrepreneurship and the private sector, agriculture, and rural development. It also offers support for people at risk of social isolation, including persons with disabilities. In addition, Poland welcomes students from the EaP countries, offering them various scholarship programmes, including the Stefan Banach Scholarship Programme.
10. Future of EaP Policies
The EaP will continue developing cooperation in the five sectoral pillars to improve living standards in the Partner countries, bring them closer to the EU, and bolster their social resilience. These measures are set out in “20 Deliverables for 2020,” a document which lays down goals to be achieved until 2020.