The tenth anniversary of the Eastern Partnership is an occasion for rethinking and rekindling the EaP and for defining the future of the project by an inclusive and feasible approach, said expert of the Institute for Development and Social Initiative “Viitorul” Edurad Țugui. According to him, reforms are still needed to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in the six ex-Soviet states. The “more for more” formula continues to be a challenge, especially for the three states with Association Agreements that aim to join the EU, IPN reports.
In the Informative Bulletin, Edurad Țugui says the EaP was launched and applied in a difficult international and European context, when a series of factors obstructed the proper implementation of the project. First of all, the internal dynamics in the EU were testing. The sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone and the financial instability of the member states from Central and Eastern Europe or the Brexit and the related negotiations generated risks and uncertainty inside the EU. Secondly, the “Arab revolution” and the war in Syria required incased attention from the EU in the Southern neighborhood, the pressure being mainly fueled by the problem of migrants from the area.
Thirdly, the EU didn’t anticipate such a reaction from Russia to the geopolitical resetting in the immediate vicinity, which started a war in Ukraine, amplified the Armenian-Azeri tensions in a move to block the signing of the Association Agreement with Armenia, imposed commercial bans on Moldova and has exerted pressure on Belarus. Ultimately, the internal political processes in the EaP states continue to be dominated by oligarchic or authoritarian regimes that hamper reforms, while the political conditionality and the financial instruments of the EU are insufficient in the absence of EU entry prospects.
However, despite this unfavorable processes, there were people in the EU and the EaP countries who believed in a European and prosperous future of the region and promoted reforms. This is a proof that the EU in time developed a complex mechanism of interaction with the EaP states and negotiated or signed new political-legal agreements, new commercial regimes and new ways of interaction with civil society. At the last Eastern Partnership Summit held in Brussels in 2017, the objectives of the projects were reanimated by adopting “20 deliverables for 2020” that would generate tangible results for the people.
The EU became the main commercial partner of the EaP states, except for Belarus, while the European investments created thousands of jobs in the region. The EaP countries benefit from technical and financial assistance for institutional modernization and for creating physical infrastructure, while the business community, the academic community, civil society and the youth benefit from an increasing number of programs and projects financed by the European Union.