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EU and six eastern neighbours launch Eastern Partnership
November 21st, 2016

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EU and six eastern neighbours launch Eastern Partnership
May 8, 2009
The EaP was proposed by the European Commission in December 2008 and endorsed by the European Council in March this year.

“It’s in the EU’s vital interest to intensify relations with these countries aiming for political association and economic integration in order to promote more stability and security on the EU’s Eastern border,” the president of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barroso, was quoted as saying in an EU press release issued on the eve of the first Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit. ”The time has come for a visible step change in relations with our East European neighbours,” Barroso said. He noted that, through the Eastern Partnership, the EU also showed “its solidarity with the partners so deeply affected by the consequences of the current financial and economic crisis.”

The EaP establishes a new framework of reinforced bilateral and multilateral cooperation which will lead to deepening of political and economic relations, more energy security and increased mobility and will give an additional boost to pro-democratic and market oriented reforms in partner countries, the EU press release said.

One innovative component of the Eastern Partnership is a multilateral track consisting of four platforms which will bring the Eastern Partners together to exchange experience and information on issues like democracy, good governance and stability, economic integration and convergence with EU policies, energy security and contacts between people.

The platforms will be providing a framework in which common challenges can be addressed through seminars to improve understanding of EU legislation and standards, sharing of experience, and where appropriate development of joint activities. Work on setting up these platforms is to begin in June with a first meeting of the platform on democracy, good governance and stability.

“Work on the Partnership is already up and running, and the first multilateral meetings will be held next month,” it quoted the EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, as saying.

Five high profile initiatives (flagship initiatives) in the framework of the multilateral track will serve the interests of the EU’s neighbours as well as the EU itself: border management programme, integration of electricity markets, energy efficiency and renewables, an SME facility, Southern corridor and response to disasters.

The meeting in Prague is hosted by Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, representing the rotating EU Presidency.

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) will complete the EU’s foreign policy towards Eastern Europe and South Caucasus through the development of a specific Eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Successive enlargements of the EU brought these countries closer to the EU and led to increased political ties. Also, the EU’s and these countries’ energy security are interlinked.

The Eastern Partnership will be developed in parallel with bilateral cooperation between the EU and third countries, including the EU’s Strategic Partnership with Russia.

The Eastern Partnership offers deeper bilateral relations and launches a new multilateral framework for cooperation, according to partners’ needs and ambitions, i.e. new Association Agreements (for those partners that have made sufficient progress towards democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and principles of market economy, sustainable development and good governance); better economic integration with the EU (with the objective of establishing deep and comprehensive Free Trade Areas), as well as free trade among the partners themselves, with a longer term goal to develop a Neighbourhood Economic Community; increased mobility through visa facilitation and readmission agreements (with gradual steps towards full visa liberalisation as a long-term goal on a case-by-case basis, provided that conditions for well-managed and secure mobility are in place); strengthened energy security cooperation, also through support to investment in infrastructure, better regulation, energy efficiency and more efficient early warning systems to prevent disruption of supply; improved administrative capacity of partner countries through jointly decided Comprehensive Institution-Building Programmes, financed by the EU; specific programmes addressing economic and social development in the partner countries, aimed at reducing disparities of wealth between regions which can undermine stability; additional financial support of € 350 million for the period until 2013, plus the redeployment of €250 million bringing the total for the implementation of the policy to €600 million.

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