The Ides of March in the Eastern neighbourhood: An overview

17-03-2014

The year 2013 was supposed to mark a turning point in the relations between the EU and the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. Scheduled at the end of November 2013, the Vilnius Summit was supposed to bring a new impetus into the overall EaP policy. Yet two of the Partnership’s countries made sudden reversals before the summit – Armenia in September, and Ukraine only days before the meeting. In both cases, pressure from Russia contributed to the country’s change of course, forcing the EU to trim its ambitions for the summit, and perhaps the partnership as a whole. Some tangible results were achieved during the gathering with Georgia and Moldova initialling their Association Agreement with the EU and Azerbaijan signing a visa facilitation agreement with the EU. If the Vilnius Summit has brought about mixed results, it provides an opportunity to review the relations that the EU has developed with the six countries participating into the EaP initiative. At the eve of a new legislative term, this review is all the more important as the EaP policy will soon celebrate its 5th anniversary and that an important stock taking exercise will have to be carried out on this occasion. And while the relationship with Ukraine has picked up considerably since November’s derailment, it remains to be seen how the overall EaP policy will be affected by the drastic deterioration of the relations with Russia following its military intervention in Crimea, which has unfolded a major international crisis.

The year 2013 was supposed to mark a turning point in the relations between the EU and the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. Scheduled at the end of November 2013, the Vilnius Summit was supposed to bring a new impetus into the overall EaP policy. Yet two of the Partnership’s countries made sudden reversals before the summit – Armenia in September, and Ukraine only days before the meeting. In both cases, pressure from Russia contributed to the country’s change of course, forcing the EU to trim its ambitions for the summit, and perhaps the partnership as a whole. Some tangible results were achieved during the gathering with Georgia and Moldova initialling their Association Agreement with the EU and Azerbaijan signing a visa facilitation agreement with the EU. If the Vilnius Summit has brought about mixed results, it provides an opportunity to review the relations that the EU has developed with the six countries participating into the EaP initiative. At the eve of a new legislative term, this review is all the more important as the EaP policy will soon celebrate its 5th anniversary and that an important stock taking exercise will have to be carried out on this occasion. And while the relationship with Ukraine has picked up considerably since November’s derailment, it remains to be seen how the overall EaP policy will be affected by the drastic deterioration of the relations with Russia following its military intervention in Crimea, which has unfolded a major international crisis.