A Partnership in the Shadow of Russia

Can the EU Still Be a Transformative Force in the East?

30 March 2021

Gian-Paolo Accardo & Andrea Pipino

More than a decade on, the Eastern Partnership still has to fight off a lack of knowledge about the framework and Russia-centred views in Europe. Meanwhile, the stalemate in the Eastern Partnership countries feeds resentment, creates instability and stimulates populist impulses.

The EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) policy is a bit like a Rorschach inkblot. Depending on who observes it, it radically changes shape and meaning. Seen from Warsaw or Vilnius, it is a project of great economic, strategic and civil importance; for the Italians, French, Dutch and many other Western European countries, it is only a vague programme whose outlines are unknown and its aims are not well understood.

Little is said about the European Partnership in the media, and when it is done, it is above all from a strictly national point of view, never a European one. Indeed, it is very likely that even political leaders are not very familiar with the EaP framework.

Patchy knowledge about former Soviet states

A similar argument can be made for the countries involved in the partnership. By geographical contiguity or the commonality of historical experiences, the states of Central and Eastern Europe are well acquainted with the events in Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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