The heads of state or government of the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the representatives of the European Union and the heads of state or government of its member states met in Brussels on 15 December 2021.
The Summit focused on support to five key areas – economy, governance, the environment, digital and society. These priorities build on the past achievements of the European Neighbourhood instrument, taking into account new challenges and opportunities – notably the green and digital transition, as well as the post-pandemic recovery.
During the Eastern Partnership Summit, the leaders agreed a joint declaration, in which they reconfirmed commitments from previous Summits and bilateral agreements, as well as their determination to carry them forward. “On this path, our ambitious reform agenda and enhanced cooperation remains the necessary condition for progress and support: increasing prosperity and fostering peace, stability, sustainability and resilience in the region, notably in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the declaration.
The document also expresses the participants’ deep concern about the continuous destabilisation and violations of the principles of international law in many parts of the Eastern Partnership region that pose a threat to peace, security and stability.
The declaration also says that the EU regrets the decision of the Belarusian authorities to suspend their participation in the Eastern Partnership. In the meantime, the comprehensive plan of economic support for a democratic Belarus, of up to €3 billion, reflects the EU’s commitment to support the democratic choice of the Belarusian people.
Besides, the EU acknowledged the initiative of the trio of associated partners – Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine – to enhance their cooperation with the EU. The European Union also took good note of the increased coordination amongst them on matters of common interest related to the implementation of the Association Agreements and DCFTAs, and on cooperation within the Eastern Partnership. At the same time, the EU and interested partners commended the entry into force of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the EU and Armenia in March 2021, and welcomed progress in the ongoing negotiations between the EU and Azerbaijan on a new comprehensive Agreement.
The declaration also reminds that the new agenda for the Eastern Partnership ‘Recovery, Resilience and Reform’ is structured around the two pillars of governance and investment. This agenda will be underpinned by the €2.3 billion regional Economic and Investment Plan with a potential to mobilise up to €17 billion in public and private investments for the region.
The Summit participants stressed that they look forward to the next Eastern Partnership Summit in 2023, which will be “the first milestone for the evaluation and review of the implementation of the new generation of priorities and targets.”
High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell and EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Olivér Várhelyi
In this challenging time, marked by the coronavirus outbreak, we can see how important international cooperation is. Over the last decade, the Eastern Partnership has brought concrete benefits for people in Georgia and across the European Union’s eastern neighbourhood. In particular:
- Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Georgia’s economy, and since 2009, EU support has helped over 40,000 Georgian SMEs and microenterprises access loans on better terms to develop their activities, increase incomes and create jobs;
- Since 2013, EU assistance to link Georgia’s education programmes to market needs have helped over 30,000 Georgians find employment through more relevant vocation education courses and labour market tools such as Worknet.ge;
- Over 90,000 Georgians living in smaller towns and villages have easier access to 200 public and banking services as well as free internet and libraries through the EU’s support to the establishment of 76 Government Community Centres throughout the country
- Under Erasmus+, almost 7,500 students and academic staff exchanges have taken place between Georgia and the EU. Over 9,300 young people and youth workers from Georgia have been involved in joint exchanges, training and volunteering projects.
To ensure our partnership continues to deliver in the fast changing world of today, we need to do even more and better. To shape our priorities, we consulted last year with people, businesses, organisations and governments of 33 countries from across our shared region. While there was an appreciation for the results achieved, there was also a clear expectation that we enhance our cooperation when it comes to jobs and prosperity, investments, connectivity, good governance and common challenges such as climate change and the digital transformation.
And now we presented our response to these consultations with long-term objectives for our policy beyond 2020. Our continued engagement with the Eastern Partnership countries remains a key priority for the European Union. Our proposals for the future are ambitious yet achievable. They build on existing cooperation but also identify areas where we need to go further. They are built on fundamental values as the heart of the EU project, such as the rule of law, protection of human rights and fight against corruption.
Concretely, we are proposing to our partners to work together on the following objectives:
- Together for resilient, sustainable and integrated economies: Strengthening the economy is key to meeting citizens’ expectations and reducing inequality and for making our partnership a success. We will focus on job creation and economic opportunities, through increased trade, investments, stronger connectivity, in particular in transport and energy, and linking education, research and innovation better with private sector needs.
- Together for accountable institutions, the rule of law and security: Good governance and democratic institutions, the rule of law, successful anti-corruption policies and security are essential for sustainable development and the consolidation of democracy. They are the backbone of resilient states and societies as well as strong economies.
- Together for environmental and climate resilience: To protect our world for generations to come, we all need to take responsibility. The EU will work with its partners to improve the resource-efficiency of economies, develop new green jobs and promote local and renewable sources of energy.
- Together for a resilient digital transformation: The EU will further invest in the digital transformation of our partners, aiming to extend the benefits of the Digital Single Market to partner countries. Our joint work will also focus on strengthening e-Governance, scaling up digital start-ups and supporting the cyber resilience of partner countries.
- Together for resilient, fair and inclusive societies: Free and fair elections together with transparent, citizen-centred and accountable public administrations are essential for democracy. The EU will continue to focus on these key areas, engaging with civil society, which needs to be given sufficient space, and supporting free, plural and independent media and human rights, as well as ensuring mobility and people-to-people contacts, all particularly important also due to growing disinformation against EU values.
Over the past decade, trade between the EU and its eastern partners has nearly doubled. Over 125,000 small and medium-sized businesses have directly benefitted from EU funding, creating or sustaining more than 250,000 jobs. We are better connected thanks to improved transport links and easier access to high capacity broadband. And according to recent surveys, the EU is the most trusted international institution among Eastern Partnership citizens. We will keep this results-oriented approach and look to do much more together in the face of today’s challenges, including when it comes to crises such as COVID-19 pandemic.
And through this we will build an even more ambitious Eastern Partnership that delivers for all and continues to bring our shared continent closer together.
Commissioners Hahn and Gabriel in Belarus to participate in the Eastern Partnership Informal DialogueFriday, 22 June 2018 00:17
Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel will be in Minsk, Belarus, on 21-22 June to participate in the 10th Eastern Partnership Informal Partnership Dialogue. They will discuss cooperation within the “20 Deliverables for 2020” following the Eastern Partnership Summit in November last year as well as how to step up cooperation in the area of digital economy with the Minsters of Foreign Affairs and Ministers in charge of the digital agenda from the six Eastern Partners -Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. On 21 June, the Commissioners will meet with Minister of Communications and Informatisation of the Republic of Belarus, Sergey Popkov, to discuss ways to cooperate in the digital area and, in particular, in the area of cybersecurity resilience, and thereafter will participate in a plenary session on promoting broadband connectivity and tackling roaming tariffs in the region.
On Friday, Commissioner Hahn together with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, Vladimir Makei, will take part in a plenary session on the state-of-play of the Eastern Partnership and the External Investment Plan. During his visit he will also have bilateral meetings with President of the Republic of Belarus, Aleksander Lukashenko, Mr Makei, Mr Popkov and will meet with civil society representatives from the economy and digital economy sectors. Photos and videos of the visit will be available on EbS.