25 November 2019
In November 2019, Visegrad Insight presented a report on major Eastern Partnership trends that will shape the EU’s framework policy with the eastern neighbours in the next decade.
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is the joint policy framework between the European Union and six eastern neighbours. This year marks a decade since it was launched in Prague during the first EaP summit.
The Eastern Partnership is expected to evolve and further shape the future relationship between all the involved countries. The idea brought up by Poland and Sweden has grown in significance largely because of the continuous commitment all Visegrad Group countries, other EU members but first and foremost due to EaP countries themselves.
Since 2009, the Eastern Partnership has had a considerable domestic and international impact, although its effects did not evenly spread across the region. Throughout this period, the participating states have undergone political, economic and social changes that redefined their relationship with the rest of Europe. What is more, they must contend with competitive and divergent interests from both global and regional powers. To mark its tenth anniversary, the European Commission and European External Action Service are working on proposals on the post-2020 policy framework of the EaP.
Against this background, Visegrad Insight is encouraging a discussion about the major trends that will shape the EU’s framework policy with the eastern neighbours. In our thematic report Eastern Partnership 2030 Trends, we identify and explore major trends for the next decade, in the spheres of politics and security, society and demography, economy and technology, information and digital as well as energy and environment, that will shape the direction of policy discussions for the EaP region.
It is based on workshops and expert consultations that were held in the autumn of 2019.
Find the report and translated briefs here:
The publication of the thematic report in November is accompanied by presentations in Minsk and Kyiv with representatives of the Ukrainian and Belarusian foreign affairs ministries, journalists and think tank analysts.
In December, the report was presented to a select group of senior diplomatic representatives and journalists at the regular V/I Breakfast meeting. The editors introduced the Eastern Partnership framework and outlined the most significant trends included in the thematic report.
In the subsequent debate, all participants discussed some of the challenges that continue to characterise the EU’s policy towards its eastern neighbours, notably the lack of a recognisable framework for foreign investors but equally a differentiated approach in each of the six countries. While the EU perceives the Eastern Partnership as a wholesale programme, the countries involved pursue a bilateral approach to the framework and prefer direct relations with the European institutions. As such, the discussion turned towards the possible tension that could arise from diverging individual preferences. Moreover, it remains to be seen whether additional intra-regional cooperation and greater agency within countries can materialise in the next decade.
Although there was great scepticism when the programme was launched a decade ago, the Eastern Partnership has filled a vacuum in terms of dialogue and providing the eastern neighbours with a prospect of closer integration with the EU. There is relative optimism from the EU’s side that the EaP is there to stay in one form or another. As a consequence, attitudes have begun to change even in those countries that had a lukewarm approach to the EaP at its launch. The post-2020 policy framework negotiations will soon reveal to what extent the EU can improve its offer to the eastern neighbours.
The thematic report is part of a broader effort that over the course of a year brings together more than 30 analysts, opinion shapers and community leaders who discuss the future strategy for the Eastern Partnership, outline major trends and resulting scenarios, organise public debates across the region and eventually launch a final report with policy recommendations based on the scenarios that give a voice to the representatives of the region as part of policy debates.
The report has been developed jointly by the Visegrad Insight of the Res Publica Foundation and the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. along with a number of regional partners including the Slovak Foreign Policy Association, the Association for International Affairs, the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy, the Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism”, and the International Strategic Action Network for Security.
It is co-funded by the International Visegrad Fund and the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the analysis and opinions published in this report do not represent the official position of either of the sponsors.