Eastern Partnership

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Eastern Partnership
Eastern Partnership forum 2012
1st Eastern Partnership forum,
Tbilisi, March 2012
EU-Eastern Partnership.svg
Formation May 7, 2009; 5 years ago (2009-05-07)
Type IGO
Region served Eastern Europe and the EU
Membership
Website http://eeas.europa.eu/eastern/index_en.htm

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is an initiative of the European Union governing its relationship with the post-Soviet states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, intended to provide a venue for discussions of trade, economic strategy, travel agreements, and other issues between the EU and its eastern neighbors. The project was initiated by Poland and a subsequent proposal was prepared in co-operation with Sweden.[1] It was presented by the foreign minister of Poland and Sweden at the EU's General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels on 26 May 2008.[2] The Eastern Partnership was inaugurated by the European Union in Prague on 7 May 2009.[3]

The first meeting of foreign ministers in the framework of the Eastern Partnership was held on 8 December 2009 in Brussels.[4]

History[edit]

The Eastern Partnership complements the Northern Dimension and the Union for the Mediterranean by providing an institutionalised forum for discussing visa agreements, free trade deals, and strategic partnership agreements with the EU's eastern neighbours, while avoiding the controversial topic of accession to the European Union. Its geographical scope consists of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.[5] Unlike the Union for the Mediterranean, the Eastern Partnership does not have its own secretariat, but is controlled directly by the European Commission.[6]

It was discussed at the European Council on 19 and 20 June 2008, along with the Union for the Mediterranean.[7] The Czech Republic endorsed the proposal completely, while Bulgaria and Romania were cautious, fearing that the Black Sea Forum for Partnership and Dialogue and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation could be undermined. Meanwhile, Germany, France, and others were not quite happy with the possibility that the Eastern Partnership could be seen as a stepping stone to membership (especially for Ukraine), while Poland and other Eastern states have explicitly welcomed this effect.[8]

The Eastern Partnership was officially launched when the Czech Republic invited the leaders of the six members of the initiative. Meanwhile, Germany attended the summit to signal their alarm at the economic situation in the East. Russia accused the EU of trying to carve out a new sphere of influence, which the EU denied, stating that they were "responding to the demands of these countries...and the economic reality is that most of their trade is done with the EU".[9]

Members[edit]

The Eastern Partnership consists of the post-Soviet states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and the European Union. The participation of Belarus and their President Lukashenko, who has been described as authoritarian, at a summing in 2009 was the subject of debate.[10]

On 30 September 2011 Belarus seemingly withdrew from the initiative because of: "unprecedented discrimination" and a "substitution" of the principles on which it was built two years ago.[11] However three days later Foreign Minister of Belarus Sergei Martynov refuted this.[12]

Institutions and aims[edit]

Warsaw Summit 2011

The Eastern Partnership is a forum aiming to improve the political and economic trade-relations of the six Post-Soviet states of "strategic importance" – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine with the European Union.[10] Promotion of human rights and rule of law in former Soviet states has been reported to form the "core" of the policy of the Eastern Partnership. The EU draft of the EaP states that: "Shared values including democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights will be at its core, as well as the principles of market economy, sustainable development and good governance." The Partnership is to provide the foundation for new Association Agreements between the EU and those partners who have made sufficient progress towards the principles and values mentioned. Apart from values, the declaration says the region is of "strategic importance" and the EU has an "interest in developing an increasingly close relationship with its Eastern partners..."[13]

The inclusion of Belarus prompts the question whether values or geopolitics are paramount in the initiative. EU diplomats agree that the country's authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, has done little to merit involvement in the policy at this stage. But the EU fears Russia will strengthen its grip on Minsk if it is left out. It is, however, assumed that in the long-term, Lukashenko will become less important with time.[13]

Apart from the largely symbolic Association Agreements, the Eastern Partnership process envisages legal "approximation" and joint "institution building," leading to the creation of a new free-trade zone embracing the 28 EU states and the six partners. The policy would see visa-free travel to the EU for the 76 million people – 46 million of them in Ukraine – living in the region. Steps toward "visa liberalisation" are to be taken on "a long-term perspective and on a case-by-case basis."[13]

There are plans to model the concept on the Stabilisation and Association Process used by the EU in the Balkans, including a possible free trade area encompassing the countries in the region, similar to BAFTA or CEFTA. A future membership perspective is not ruled out, either.[14]

Financing[edit]

The EC has earmarked €600 million for the six partner countries for the period 2010–13 as part of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument, constituting about a quarter of the total funding available to the Eastern Partnership countries in this period. The funds will be used for three main purposes: Comprehensive Institution Building programmes, aimed at supporting reforms (approximately €175 million); Pilot regional development programmes, aimed at addressing regional economic and social disparities (approximately €75 million); and Implementation of the Eastern Partnership, focusing on democracy, governance and stability, economic integration and convergence with EU policies, energy security, and contacts between people with the aim of bringing the partners closer to the EU (approximately €350 million).[15]

Eastern Partnership and EU-Ukraine bilateral relations[edit]

Pro-EU demonstration on 27 November 2013 in Kiev

Ukraine is one of six post-Soviet nations to be invited to co-operate with the EU within the new multilateral framework that the Eastern partnership is expected to establish. However, Kiev pointed out that it remains pessimistic about the "added value" of this initiative. Indeed, Ukraine and the EU have already started the negotiations on new, enhanced political and free-trade agreements (Association and Free-Trade Agreements). Also, there has been some progress in liberalising the visa regime despite persistent problems in the EU Member States' visa approach towards Ukrainians.

That is why Ukraine has a specific view of the Eastern Partnership Project. According to the Ukrainian presidency, it should correspond, in case of his country, to the strategic foreign policy objective, i.e. the integration with the EU.[16] Yet, the Eastern Partnership documents (the European Council Declaration of May 2009)[17] do not confirm such priorities as political and economic integration or lifting visas.

Ukraine has expressed enthusiasm about the project. Ukraine deputy premier Hryhoriy Nemyria said that the project is the way to modernise the country and that they welcome the Eastern Partnership policy, because it uses 'de facto' the same instruments as for EU candidates.[18]

Under the Eastern Partnership, Poland and Ukraine have reached a new agreement replacing visas with simplified permits for Ukrainians residing within 30 km of the border. Up to 1.5 million people may benefit from this agreement which took effect on 1 July 2009.[19]

Relationship with Russia[edit]

Russia has voiced concerns over the Eastern Partnership,[20] seeing it as an attempt to expand the European Union's “sphere of influence” in the quest for oil. Russia has also expressed concerns that the EU is putting undue pressure on Belarus[21] by suggesting it might be marginalised if it follows Russia in recognising the independence of the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “Is this promoting democracy or is it blackmail? It's about pulling countries from the positions they want to take as sovereign states”, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has stated.

Sweden, the co-author of the Eastern Partnership project together with Poland, rejected Mr Lavrov's position as "completely unacceptable".

“The Eastern Partnership is not about spheres of influence. The difference is that these countries themselves opted to join”, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said at the Brussels Forum. The EU's position on Georgia is not 'blackmail' but “is about upholding the principles of the EU and international law, which Russia should also be respecting”, he added.[18]

In November 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed the Eastern Partnership as useless: “Frankly speaking, I don't see any special use (in the program) and all the participants of this partnership are confirming this to me”. However a few days later Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia does not rule out joining the EU's Eastern Partnership programme.[22]

Russia keeps a stand of opposition towards EPP. For instance, after the Warsaw Summit 2011 of the EPP, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pointed that regarding the economic crisis in the EU, Ukraine would probably not join the EU. Instead of joining the EU, Putin offered a Russia – Ukraine relationship which would provide a more competitive and productive economic process.[23]

The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum[edit]

Founded during the Prague Eastern Partnership Summit in 2009, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (CSF) is an integral part of the Eastern Partnership program and creates a significant and institutional platform for civil society organisations to monitor and discuss the developments regarding democracy building and human rights development in the six partnership countries.[24] The CSF consists of six national platforms and five thematic working groups, which are represented by an annually elected Steering Committee composed of 13 members. The CSF meets annually to discuss the latest developments and to set their working program. The first meeting took place in Brussels in 2009. The last three meetings took place in Batumi in 2014, Chisinau in 2013 and Stockholm in 2012.[25]

The Forum contributes to the implementation of flagship projects that monitor and facilitate democratic transition in the Eastern Partnership region and provides direct input and submission of written opinions and recommendations in the early stages of policy-making both in the Eastern Partnership and the EU, conducts advocacy campaigns at critical junctures, and monitors the implementation of commitments and agreements made between the EU and partner countries within the framework of the Eastern Partnership. The Forum currently supports two flagship initiatives including the Eastern Partnership Media Freedom Index and the Eastern Partnership Integration Index. In terms of its past advocacy work, the Forum has successfully secured greater funding for civil society in the Eastern Partnership and contributed to the design of the EU's roadmap for the Eastern Partnership Vilnius Summit in 2013.[26]

Currently, the Forum is actively campaigning for an EU response to the human rights situation in Azerbaijan.[27] It is also preparing to monitor the implementation of Association Agreements between the European Union and Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

The linkages between civil society organisations in the Eastern Partnership and the EU mean that the CSF provides a framework for transmitting European values and norms. As a result, some scholars have attributed a socialisation function to the Forum, whereby norms sponsored by the European Union are internalised by participating civil society organisations.[28]

Criticism[edit]

Although the Eastern Partnership was inaugurated on 7 May 2009, academic research critically analysing the policy became available by early 2010 Research findings from a UK ESRC research project examining the EU's relations with three Eastern Partnership member states, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova notes both conceptual and empirical dilemmas.[29] First, conceptually the EU has limited uniform awareness of what it is trying to promote in its eastern neighbourhood under the aegis of 'shared values', 'collective norms' and ‘joint ownership'. Secondly, empirically, the EU seems to favour a ‘top-down’ governance approach (based on rule/norm transfer and conditionality) in its relations with outsiders, which is clearly at odds with a voluntary idea of 'partnership', and explicitly limits the input of 'the other' in the process of reform.[30]

Further reading[edit]

Academic Policy Papers[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Korosteleva, E.A., Natorski, M. and Simao, L.(Eds.), (2014), EU Policies in the Eastern Neighbourhood: the practices perspective, London: Routledge, ISBN 0415720575
  • Korosteleva, E.A. (2012),The European Union and its Eastern Neighbours: Towards a more ambitious partnership? London: BASEES/Routledge Series on Russian and East European Studies, ISBN 0-415-61261-6
  • Korosteleva E.A, (Ed.), (2011), Vostochnoe Partnerstvo: problemy i perspektivy [Eastern Partnership: problems and perspectives], Minsk: Belarusian State University, ISBN 978-985-491-088-8
  • Korosteleva, E.A. (Ed.) (2011), Eastern Partnership: A New Opportunity for the Neighbours?, London: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-67607-X
  • Whitman, R., & Wolff, S., (Ed.), (2010), The European Neighbourhood Policy in perspective: context, implementation and impact, Palgrave:London, ISBN 023020385X

Journal Articles[edit]

  • Korosteleva, E.A, ‘Change or Continuity: Is the Eastern Partnership an Adequate Tool for the European Neighbourhood’, International Relations, 25(2) June 2011: 243–62
  • Whitman, R., European Union's relations with the Wider Europe’ Journal of Common Market Studies Annual Review of the European Union in 2010, 49, (2011). pp. 187–208.
  • Korosteleva, E.A, ‘Eastern Partnership: a New Opportunity for the Neighbours?’, Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, Special Issue, 27(1) 2011: 1–21
  • Korosteleva, E.A, ‘Moldova’s European Choice: Between Two Stools’, Europe-Asia Studies, 61(8) 2010: 1267–89
  • Wolfgang Tiede and Jakob Schirmer: "The EU’s Eastern Partnership – Objectives and Legal Basis", in: "The European Legal Forum" (EuLF) 3/2009, pp. 168–174.
  • Korosteleva, E.A, ‘The Limits of the EU Governance: Belarus’ Response to the European Neighbourhood Policy’, Contemporary Politics, 15 (2) 2009: 229–45
  • Bosse, G., & Korosteleva, E.A, ‘Changing Belarus? The Limits of EU Governance in Eastern Europe’, Cooperation and Conflict, 44 (2) 2009: 143–165

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.atlantic-community.org/app/webroot/files/articlepdf/EasternPartnership.pdf
  2. ^ Poland takes on Russia with 'Eastern Partnership' proposal, Daily Telegraph, 2008-05-25
  3. ^ EU pact challenges Russian influence in the east, guardian.co.uk, 2009-05-07
  4. ^ „Eastern Partnership implementation well on track“, europa.eu, 2009-12-08
  5. ^ EU might get new Eastern Partnership, Barents Observer, 2008-05-22
  6. ^ "Poland and Sweden to pitch 'Eastern Partnership' idea", EUObserver, 2008-05-22
  7. ^ Poland, Sweden defend 'Eastern initiative', EurActive.com, 2008-05-26
  8. ^ "'Eastern Partnership' could lead to enlargement, Poland says", EU Observer, 2008-05-27
  9. ^ "'EU reaches out to troubled East", BBC News, 2009-05-07
  10. ^ a b EU assigns funds and staff to 'Eastern Partnership', EU Observer, 2009-03-20
  11. ^ Belarus quits EU's Eastern Partnership initiative, Eur Activ, 2011-10-30
  12. ^ Belarus still Participating in "Eastern Partnership," FM, [1], 2011-11-03
  13. ^ a b c Values to form core of EU 'Eastern Partnership, EU Observer, 2009-03-18
  14. ^ Balkans model to underpin EU's 'Eastern Partnership', EU Observer, 2008-09-18
  15. ^ "Vademecum on Financing in the Frame of the Eastern Partnership". Europa. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  16. ^ http://www.president.gov.ua, 24 March 2009
  17. ^ http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/er/107589.pdf
  18. ^ a b EU expanding its 'sphere of influence,' Russia says, EU Observer, 2009-03-21
  19. ^ "Sikorski: umowa o małym ruchu granicznym od 1 lipca". Gazeta Wyborcza. 17 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  20. ^ "Playing East against West: The success of the Eastern Partnership depends on Ukraine". The Economist. November 23, 2013.
  21. ^ Korosteleva, E.A., “The Limits of the EU Governance: Belarus ' Response to the European Neighbourhood Policy”, Contemporary Politics, Vol. 15(2), June 2009, pp. 229–45
  22. ^ “Lavrov: Russia could join EU Eastern Partnership”, Hurriyet, 2009-11-25.
  23. ^ http://www.regnum.ru/news/1451106.html
  24. ^ . Civil Society Forum
  25. ^ Report on the Civil Society Forum 2012
  26. ^ [2]
  27. ^ [3]
  28. ^ [4]
  29. ^ 'Moldova most EU-friendly Eastern country, survey reveals', Euractive, 2010-06-14
  30. ^ http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/Minisite/widereurope/index.html

External links[edit]