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    Eastern Partnership

    The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is the first comprehensive initiative introduced into the system of the European Union's external relations, addressed to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The Eastern Partnership is designed to help the countries of Eastern Europe and South Caucasus with their approximation to and integration with the European Union.  The EaP has injected a new quality into relations between the EU and the countries covered by the initiative through their gradual integration with the European Union.

    The initiative was officially launched at the first Eastern Partnership summit in Prague on May 7 2009, which adopted a Joint Declaration. It marked the successful establishment of the Partnership as an integral component of European Union foreign policy.

    The fulfillment of EaP objectives is meant to bring about genuine approximation of the partner countries to the EU and, in the future, may facilitate their full integration. The Eastern Partnership is governed by the principles of shared ownership, differentiation and conditionality. Basing on Union values, standards and norms, it advances cooperation in such spheres as human rights, market economy, sustainable development, good governance, energy security and many others. The Eastern Partnership also stimulates the development and strengthening of contacts between people and of scientific and cultural cooperation.

    The primary goals of the Eastern Partnership include the attainment of political association, establishment of  bilateral deep and comprehensive  free trade areas between the EU and partner countries, gradual steps towards visa liberalization, leading to the introduction of a visa-free regime, and the  establishment of a structure of multilateral cooperation in the form of four thematic platforms (devoted, respectively,  to democracy, good governance and stability; economic integration and convergence with EU policies; energy security; and contacts between people).

    In line with the commitments of the EaP founding summit, the European Investment Bank set up the Eastern Partners Facility, with funds totaling EUR 1.5 billion, earmarked for the financing of investments in EaP partner countries. This has supplemented the EIB's previous external mandate for investments in Eastern Europe (EUR 3.7 billion).

    The Joint Declaration has opened the Eastern Partnership to participation by a wide range of actors. In addition to government institutions, they include parliaments, international organizations, local government bodies, financial institutions, the civil society and private sector. Third states will be eligible for participation on a case-by-case basis in concrete projects, activities and meetings of the thematic platforms, where this contributes to the objectives of the Eastern Partnership.

    A number of international organizations have accepted the invitation to engage in EaP cooperation.  The Council of Europe wants to be involved in EaP  anticorruption programs  and  in undertakings to improve the functioning of judiciary systems. The OSCE is planning cooperation to raise human rights protection standards. The EBRD and the OECD are involved in a program of support for small and medium-sized enterprises in Eastern partner countries.  There are plans for the engagement of other international organizations and third countries in these EaP initiatives.

    On the bilateral level of the EaP, involving relations between the EU and the respective partner countries, efforts are being made to put in place association agreements and establish deep and comprehensive free trade areas. Works on an association agreement between the EU and Ukraine are close to conclusion. Negotiations on a similar agreement with Moldova as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia began in 2010.

    Moves are also being made to bring about gradual visa liberalization, leading to visa-free travel. Cooperation in this regard is furthest advanced with Ukraine.  Both sides have developed dialog on visa issues, seeking to create conditions for the introduction of a visa-free regime. Similar dialog started with Moldova in June 2010. Negotiations on a visa-facilitation  agreement with Georgia were completed in 2009 (similar agreements are already in force in relations with Ukraine and Moldova). Meanwhile, talks are underway with Armenia and Azerbaijan on possible forms of collaboration in this sphere.

    The conference in Sopot was the first informal meeting of EaP foreign ministers organized together by Poland and the Spanish Presidency. On the first anniversary of the EaP, foreign ministers from 33 countries and the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy focused on the practical implementation of the Partnership, including European Commission plans and actions, the financing principles, the calendar and methods of implementing the respective stages of the initiative, and the possibilities of participation by Member States and partner countries in designing and implementing activities and projects. The partner countries presented their expectations connected with the deepening of relations with the European Union and the realization of concrete programs and projects. A key topic, discussed at the meeting, was the establishment of a Group of Friends of the Eastern Partnership, an informal forum of cooperation with non-EU countries, interested in supporting Eastern Partnership goals.

    Center for Eastern Studies (OSW) launched English-language internet portal, Eastern Partnership Community (, dedicated to the European Union's relations with the countries of the Eastern Partnership.

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