Tag Archives: Eastern Partnership

EU Eastern partnership ambiguity

Dr Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann – OPINION –  There have been no celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership project between the European Union and the former Republics of the USSR.  Officially  launched as a joint policy initiative which “aims to deepen and strengthen relations” between the European Union Member States and its six Eastern neighbors: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, with time it failed to clarify its strategic goals.

In reality the ambivalence of the aims the EU pursues, namely in the frame of the Enlargement policy, the obscurity of perspective of the membership for, at least some of the six, – are the elements which plague the endeavor for participants from both sides. 

Ten year after the EU narrative on the Eastern Partnership is partially biased since it does not explain the complete picture and maintains ambiguity about future relations between the EU and Eastern neighbors.

Previously on the occasion of the 5th Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit in Brussels,  24 November 2017, EastStratCom, a unit within the European External Action Service (EEAS) of the EU, set up to address Russia‘s ongoing disinformation campaigns, published a document on its website, entitled “Myths about the Eastern Partnership”  supposed to counter false information about this policy. 

According to its website, the East StratCom Task Force “develops communication products and campaigns focused on better explaining EU policies in the Eastern Partnership countries“. The document pretends to counter the myth that participation in the Eastern Partnership (Eap) leads to EU membership. It underlines that this claim is false” and that the Eastern Partnership initiative “is not a EU accession process“, however its aim is to build “a common area of shared democracy, prosperity, stability and increased cooperation“.

In reality the situation is even much more ambiguous, than its reflection in the document, which omits to mention that although the accession is not mentioned in EU or other Eastern Partnership documents, further EU Enlargement to the East is an objective of some members in the bloc.  The EU Enlargement has to be approved by Member States at unanimity and Member States are today divided on the issue. However, the pro-enlargement countries think the situation can change in the future.

Subsequently Ukrainian think tanks in Brussels are promoting future enlargements after a process of Europeanisation through the Eastern Partnership program. East StratCom omits to inform about the implicit sides of this policy. The EaP policy is from its origins, used both by the EaP countries and some EU Member States to push for further EU enlargement in the longer term.

Geopolitical analysis is about highlighting the implicit objectives of actors. In this respect, the former EU ambassador to Russia has unveiled his support for EU enlargement to the Ukraine. The Lithuanian Vygaudas Ušackas, declared in October 2017 that “we need not only to acknowledge Ukrainians’” European aspirations but at some point grant them a path towards EU membership.

We know from experience that the prospect of membership works as a stimulus for reforms. Uncertainty about Ukraine’s geopolitical position also leaves it exposed to further destabilisation by Russia, which in turn has a negative impact on EU-Russia relations. A successful Ukraine will contribute to stability in our region and represent a powerful example for the Russian people.”

Unsurprisingly, this is in  line of Poland and Baltic countries, but also more recently Romania and Croatia, who are openly in favour of further EU enlargement and this is precisely why they support the Eastern Partnership policy. The President of the European People’s Party (EPP) Joseph Daul also underlined we must offer concrete European prospect to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. And we must offer them the hope that one day they can join our family“. 

The EU narrative on the Eastern Partnership is therefore partially biased since it does not explain the complete picture and maintains ambiguity about future enlargement. This ambiguity is reducing trust, not only with Russia, but also with EU citizens. To resolve this crucial problem, as part of this reform, the EU needs to fix its frontiers in order to preserve its cohesion, strengthen its identity and facilitate the identification of its interests.

 

EU foreign ministers to discuss broad agenda

The Foreign Affairs Council on July 16 will start with a discussion on current affairs, allowing ministers to review pressing issues on the international agenda.

This will include the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) following the JCPOA Joint Commission meeting on 6 July.

The High Representative and foreign ministers may also refer to the Western Balkan Summit taking place in London on 10 July.

Foreign ministers will exchange views on the Eastern Partnership. They will prepare for the Eastern Partnership ministerial meeting foreseen in October.

Ministers will discuss the implementation of the 20 deliverables for 2020. This framework aims to achieve stronger economy, governance, connectivity and society in the six Eastern partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

The Council will discuss Libya and it will focus on the political process, in particular the upcoming elections. It will be the opportunity to reiterate the EU’s support to UN Secretary General’s Special Representative Ghassan Salamé.

Ministers may also touch upon the country’s economic situation.The discussion also takes place in the context of the follow-up to the European Council conclusions on migration.

Eastern Partnership as 'belt of prosperity'

The 5th Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit will take place in Brussels in Europa building on 24 November.

Heads of state or government from the EU member states and the six Eastern partner countries will look forward to future cooperation.

They will also take stock of what has been achieved since the last summit in Riga in 2015, focusing on the tangible benefits delivered to the citizens of the six Eastern Partnership countries.

The summit will discuss how to further strengthen cooperation in the four priority areas agreed in Riga:

  • stronger economy: economic development and better market opportunities
  • stronger governance: strengthening of institutions and good governance
  • stronger connectivity: enhancing interconnections, notably in the areas of transport and energy
  • stronger society: increasing mobility and contacts between people

20 deliverables for 2020 in these four areas were identified by the EEAS and the European Commission in a joint staff working document ‘Eastern Partnership – Focusing on key priorities and deliverables’. The report was first presented in December 2016 and revised in June 2017.

Eastern Partnership fatigue

The Fifth Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit will take place in Brussels in Europa building on 24 November. 

Heads of state or government from the EU member states and the six Eastern partner countries will look forward to future cooperation.

They will also take stock of what has been achieved since the last summit in Riga in 2015, focusing on the tangible benefits delivered to the citizens of the six Eastern Partnership countries.

The EaP was launched in 2009 to promote political association and economic integration between the EU and the six Eastern European partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldovaand Ukraine.

The summit will discuss how to further strengthen cooperation in the four priority areas agreed in Riga:

  • stronger economy: economic development and better market opportunities
  • stronger governance: strengthening of institutions and good governance
  • stronger connectivity: enhancing interconnections, notably in the areas of transport and energy
  • stronger society: increasing mobility and contacts between people

20 deliverables for 2020 in these four areas were identified by the EEAS and the European Commission in a joint staff working document ‘Eastern Partnership – Focusing on key priorities and deliverables’. The report was first presented in December 2016 and revised in June 2017.

Horn of Africa in focus of EU foreign ministers

The Foreign Affaris Council, 15.05.2017 will take stock of the implementation of the EU Global Strategy in the area of security and defence, in particular on the civilian aspects. Defence ministers will also have a discussion on this topic at the Foreign Affairs Council (Defence) on 18 May.

The Council will discuss the situation in the Horn of Africa, a region facing destabilisation, in particular in Somalia and South Sudan. The discussion is expected to focus on the political and security challenges, including the implications of the situation in the wider region, across the Red Sea.

The Council will examine EU-Africa relations based on a joint communication by the High Representative and the Commission for a renewed impetus of the Africa-EU Partnership. The discussion will feed into the preparation of the EU-Africa Summit in November.

Foreign Affairs ministers will have a lunch discussion with Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission who took office on 14 March 2017.

Foreign ministers will also review the Eastern Partnership ahead of the Eastern Partnership ministerial meeting on 19 June in Luxembourg and the Eastern Partnership Summit foreseen on 24 November in Brussels.