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5th Eastern Partnership Summit brought together the EU and Eastern neighbours' leaders in Brussels for the first time

The 5th Eastern Partnership Summit took place on 24 November in Brussels. The leaders of the 28 EU Member States - together with Presidents Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker as well as EU High Representative Federica Mogherini - participated in the Summit with the six Eastern Partnership countries. They took stock of progress made since the Riga Summit in 2015, with a focus on the tangible results the Partnership brings to citizens of the Eastern partner countries.

EaP Summit Joint Declaration

The Joint Declaration adopted by the Summit reconfirmed the shared commitment to the strategic and ambitious Eastern Partnership, based on common values, mutual interests and understanding, shared ownership and responsibility, differentiation, mutual accountability, which brings the Eastern European partner countries closer to the European Union. The Summit participants recommitted themselves to strengthening democracy, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as principles and norms of international law, which are at the heart of the Eastern Partnership.

They reaffirmed that engagement with civil society, including through the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, and broadened outreach and targeted support to grassroots civil society organisations and social partners, remains an integral part of the Partnership as highlighted by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Conference and 9th Annual Assembly in October 2017 in Tallinn. Civil society is an indispensable partner for the government as driver of reform and promoter of accountability.

However, despite highlighting the stronger role for the civil society, incentive-based approach, introducing the External Investment Plan, Common Aviation Area Agreements for Ukraine, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and possibility of visa liberalisation dialogue with Armenia, the Summit failed to gain momentum and reinvigorate the Eastern Partnership. The Eastern partners had been expecting from the EU a clear signal and message of encouragement for those seeking closer integration, as well as tangible incentives for the associated countries to support them on their path towards reforming. 

It is crucial that empowering civil society and providing it with enabling environment becomes a real commitment, not a mere promise on paper. Diplomacy should be matched by a comparable and compatible support to the civil society still struggling to be accepted by the governments as an equal partner.

Joint Summit Declaration

EaP CSF Press Release

EU signed the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with Armenia

The new EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed in the margins of the Eastern Partnership Summit on 24 November.

According to the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, the Agreement will have a real impact on people's lives, both in Armenia and in the European Union; it will allow to strengthen the cooperation on security matters, in particular through increasing resilience; to improve the investment climate, stimulating growth and jobs; and to find environmentally-friendly solutions to help communities prosper and businesses grow.

The agreement envisages an independent Civil Society Platform composed of Armenian and EU organisations, which will monitor the implementation of the agreement and provide recommendations to the Armenian authorities and to the EU. 

In the framework of the EaP CSF re-granting project implemented by Eurasia Partnership Foundation (Armenia) in partnership with Promo-LEX Association (Moldova) and Foundation Liberal Academy (Georgia) experts analysed the Georgian and Moldovan experience, focusing on the best practices for the bilateral civil society platform envisaged under the new EU-Armenia agreement. As a result, recommendations on how to ensure an effective engagement of the Armenian civil society in the process of the CEPA implementation have been developed and presented to the stakeholders in Brussels.

The EaP CSF Armenian National Platform is actively involved in establishing the EU-Armenia Civil Society Platform in line with the CEPA. In its statement, the Armenian National Platform (NP) called for accountability, impartiality and transparency via engaging the civil society throughout the process of the CEPA implementation. The NP should become an active partner in the process of developing priorities, programme implementation and assessment, as well as in the monitoring of the Agreement’s implementation as such.

Text of the EU-Armenia Agreement

Statement of the EaP CSF Armenian NP

Declaration

Alternative Civil Society Declaration

The Civil Society Declaration was adopted at the 9th EaP CSF Annual Assembly and Eastern Partnership Civil Society Conference as a collaborative effort identifying major obstacles to further democratic development within the EaP countries and to the smooth implementation of the 2020 Deliverables while offering specific recommendations on how governments and civil society organisations can work together to overcome them.

It was presented to the Commissioner Johannes Hahn as the consolidated civil society position for the Brussels Summit.

Civil Society Declaration

Event

Quo vadis Eastern Partnership? A retrospective look into the future

Ahead of the 5th Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) together with the European Endowment for Democracy (EED), Open Society European Policy Institute, Slovak Foreign Policy Association and Think Visegrad Platform organised a special pre-Summit event “Quo Vadis Eastern Partnership? A Retrospective look into The Future”.

The discussions at the conference were aimed at both critically assessing the Eastern Partnership’s achievements and real changes on the ground to date, and offering recommendations for adjusting the EU’s policy to address emerging challenges.

The speakers underlined the benefits of multilateral and regional cooperation, as well as the need to avoid the fragmentation of the Eastern Partnership due to the multi-speed approach. Human rights and democracy issues were highlighted as a priority in the overall policy, not just at the high-level Summits. All the panellists raised the issue of incentives – they should be more attractive and more credible, combined with stricter conditionality. The Eastern Partnership can be a part of the solution for some of the challenges the EU is currently facing. According to the experts, the EU has to focus more on legitimacy, rather than geopolitics, since society’s expectations are often different from those of the governments. A clearer vision is needed both in Brussels and the EaP capitals on what comes after the current reform cycle.

Report from the event

In Media

Civil society state of play in EaP: any results?

Violetta Rusheva from New Europe analysed the EU promotion of the civil society's strengthened role in the Eastern Partnership and the results achieved by the civil society in the region to date.

She focuses on the reforms in Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus and the role of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in this process.

Read the article

#StrongerTogether video

Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Secretariat of the EaP CSF Steering Committee 

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