The Eastern Partnership – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why did the EU and its partners launch the Eastern Partnership?

Successive EU enlargements have brought the region closer to the EU, and its security, stability and prosperity increasingly affect the EU’s. The Partnership was launched initially to enable the EU to support its partners' democratic and market-oriented reforms. From the very beginning, the EaP has been a specific dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy.

The Partnership aims to:

  • continue developing close differentiated relations with each of the partners to help them become more resilient in the situation of increasing challenges to stability and security in the region and to make their own sovereign choices
  • promote economic integration between the European Union and its eastern neighbours;
  • enable citizens of the partner countries to travel more easily.

Eastern Partnership – what countries are involved?

All 28 EU countries and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Why have such different countries decided to cooperate with the EU within a single multilateral framework?

The Eastern Partnership enables the partner countries to pursue an aim they all share: to step up relations with the EU. The EU has a vital interest in further economic development, greater democratic governance and increased stability in its eastern neighbourhood. Partner countries face similar challenges and learning from each other helps to address them. Multilateral component enables partners to share experience and information. This framework also allows the countries and the EU to seize the opportunities for regional cooperation. Moreover, the 2015 EaP Summit in Riga listed the strengthening of institutions and good governance, mobility and people-to-people contacts, market opportunities and interconnections as shared priorities which will be taken forward with partners, including in the multilateral framework of the EaP.

With the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine having signed the Association Agreement with its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas, is there still a future for the Eastern Partnership as a single framework?

Yes there is. The Eastern Partnership is a flexible framework for engagement with the EU offering deep political association and economic integration for those that wish and more tailored relationships for others. Whatever the scope of bilateral relations with individual partners, working with the EU can contribute to building security, stability and prosperity in the region. The overarching goal for EU's cooperation with East Neighbourhood is stabilisation and closer partnership with our Eastern partners. This will be done through:

  • Enhanced effectiveness in promoting accountable and just governance, building where possible on shared commitment to rule of law, democratic governance and human rights;
  • Prioritisation of economic development. Economic growth and employability, development of skills and competences and creation of opportunities particularly for young men and women will be highlighted as a key to stabilise societies;
  • Strengthening our cooperation in foreign policy and security related areas.

What does 'differentiation' mean?

Differentiation in bilateral relations implies that the EU will move away from the 'one size fits all' approach and develop partnerships that are tailor made with each of the partners to reflect different ambitions and interests.

What about conditionality – will the EU still apply the 'more for more' principle?

The incentive-based approach ("More for More") has been successful in supporting reforms, where there is a commitment by partners to such reforms. However, it has not proven a sufficiently strong incentive to create a commitment to reform, where there is not the political will. Therefore, the EU will seek more effective ways to accompany fundamental reforms with each partner.

How will the Partnership address security issues?

New security dimension is one of the key results of the reviewed European Neighbourhood Policy of which Eastern Partnership is a specific dimension. Given specific security challenges our partners are facing, there will be a focus on enhancing cooperation on security sector reform. An increasingly pressing priority will also be border security. Additionally, as set out in the European Agenda on Security, our efforts will prioritise tackling terrorism and preventing radicalisation, disrupting organise crime and fighting cybercrime in full compliance with international law, including international human rights law.

What does it offer to non-governmental organisations and interest groups in partner countries?

The reviewed ENP confirmed that civil society participation remains a strong trademark of the EU's policy of engagement with fundamental democratic values.  Democratic and market-oriented reforms depend on involving non-governmental organisations and interest groups. The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (CSF) supports such bodies. It helps partner countries share information and experience of transition, reform and modernisation. The Forum influences EU institutions and national governments by presenting recommendations during their decision-making processes.

What about the Russian Federation? Is this proposal anti-Russian?

No. Our approach to the Eastern Partnership has always been transparent and based on the interests and needs expressed by our partner countries. Our cooperation in the Eastern Partnership aims at building stability through integration and adoption of EU's approach to democracy and good governance. Whatever the choice of our EaP partners’ in regards of our cooperation is, it is not the choice between East and West. The EU does not see EaP policy as a geopolitical game; on the contrary, we wish to build a stable and prosperous area for the benefit of all. For this aim to be achieved, Eastern Partnership members need good working relations with all their neighbours, including Russia.  

Does the Eastern Partnership mean that the EU holds out the prospect of joining the European Union to all/some of its eastern neighbours?

Not necessarily. Taking part in the Eastern Partnership does not imply that the country concerned is on the way to joining the EU.

What about the Black Sea? Doesn't the Partnership duplicate existing cooperation?

No. It complements the Black Sea Synergy(5 eastern European Neighbourhood Policy countries, Russia and Turkey). The Black Sea Synergy aims to solve regional problems, whereas the Eastern Partnership pursues alignment of partner countries with the EU.

The EU is committed to strengthening the Black Sea Synergy.

What does the EU do to communicate better its goals towards the Eastern Partnership?

The EU is working to improve our communication efforts, increasing the visibility and awareness of the public about the benefits of the Partnership. We need to ensure that our policies and relations with the partners are well understood by citizens. To support these efforts, a Strategic Communications Task Force focused on Russia and the Eastern Neighbourhood has been established and its first results are very encouraging.

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