Making sense of the EU’s Eastern Partnership

Policy memo, no.13, September 2010

AuthorsPaul Ivan, Cristian Ghinea

The Romanian Center for European Policies (CRPE) released today the study “Making sense of the EU’s Eastern Partnership. Moldova as an opportunity“.
It hass been more than a year since the May 2009 official launch of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), a joint Polish-Swedish initiative that tries to upgrade the framework for relations between the EU and six Eastern European neighbors (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaidjan and Armenia). The main goals of the EaP are to achieve the political association and economic integration of the six EaP countries with the EU.

The study presents the programme as it stands today as well as the positions of the six EaP countries regarding the initiative, with a special emphasis on Moldova.
The report argues that, despite some accomplishments, the Eastern Partnership is far from reaching its full potential and clearly needs some visible successes.  The economies of the EaP countries were seriously affected by the global economic crisis and there were also no big improvements on the democracy front, with Moldova probably the only exception. The region also didn’t experience any improvements in the situation of the frozen conflicts.

CRPE’s study supports greater EU involvement in the eastern neighborhood. The EU should be ready to intervene and help EaP countries cope with economic and political crises such as the recent ban on Moldovan wine enforced by Russia. More attention should also be given to the individual characteristics of each country, as the six EaP countries do not represent a coherent group.  Clear distinctions between the EaP countries should be made depending on the reforms they undertake and their level of ambition in relation to the Union.

From the six EaP countries Moldova has the most favorable attitude toward the EU and also the most EU-oriented economy. It is also the only country in the Partnership that rapidly developed its relations with the EU during the last year. The study argues that Moldova could be the success story needed in order to give viability and credibility to the Eastern Partnership
However, in order to achieve this, Moldova should continue the current fast pace of reforms. The country’s European course will depend on the results of parliamentary elections taking place later this year. A new Communist government would most likely go back to the former façade Europeanization characteristic during the 2005-2009 period.

The report is launched in the project `Romania – Moldova partnership for European integration. The Contribution of the Civil Society` jointly sponsored by the Romanian and Moldovan Soros foundations.

The report is available, here.