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THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP IT IS HIGH TIME TO START A REAL PARTNERSHIP Paweł Dariusz Wiśniewski NOVEMBER 2013 THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP IT IS HIGH TIME TO START A REAL PARTNERSHIP Paweł Dariusz Wiśniewski 2013 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. All rights reserved. The Carnegie Moscow Center and the Carnegie Endowment do not take institutional positions on public policy issues; the views represented here are the author s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Endowment, its staff, or its trustees. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the Carnegie Moscow Center or Carnegie Endowment. Please direct inquiries to Carnegie Moscow Center 16/2 Tverskaya Moscow, , Russia Tel Fax: ) This publication can be downloaded at no cost at Paweł Dariusz Wiśniewski iii Contents Summary 1 Introduction 3 What is the Eastern Partnership? 3 Main Accomplishments of the Eastern Partnership 6 The Imperfect Side 7 Whose Fault is It? 10 Is There Any Future for the EaP? 20 Notes 25 About the Author 29 Carnegie Moscow Center 31 Summary The European Union s (EU s) Eastern Partnership, which aims to deepen cooperation between the EU and its Eastern European neighbors, must be modernized. Partner states and the EU have to acknowledge their own failures instead of playing a blame game and work together to make the partnership a success. If the Eastern Partnership initiative fails, both sides along with Russia, whose role is key will be responsible. Key Themes Major efforts, such as signing an Association Agreement with Ukraine and initialing Association Agreements with Moldova and Georgia, are on the table at the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. The EU should take responsibility for the ineffective financing of the Eastern Partnership and the inconsistent way in which it differentiates among partner states. It is also to blame for the lack of agreement among EU members concerning the depth of the partnership on issues such as visa liberalization and economic cooperation. Authorities in the partner countries, frightened of losing power, tend to use the initiative as a counterweight to Russian influence instead of as an opportunity to transform. Russia weakens the initiative by using hard and soft power to influence EU institutions, EU states, and partner countries. Implications for the Eastern Partnership s Future The Eastern Partnership has the potential to be a foundation for further cooperation between the EU and its Eastern neighbors. But the initiative needs deep reforms. Unless changes are made, Moscow will use the partnership s weaknesses to hamper the program, decreasing the initiative s role in post-soviet states. The EU should refocus on people-to-people contact with partner states, be more open to further cooperation, improve the way the initiative is funded, and stop threatening Eastern Partnership leaders and the public with now-ornever language to push them into reform. While authorities in partner states may be hesitant to reform, they should stop using the initiative as a tool to bargain with the EU and Russia. Doing so has negative long-term consequences. 1 2 The Eastern Partnership It is High Time to Start a Real Partnership The populations of partner countries should more willingly cooperate with the EU to encourage the EU to offer more people-to-people programs. Regardless of the outcome of the Vilnius Summit, the EU should look at the Eastern Partnership more critically and remember that democracy is a process and not a condition to be taken for granted. The EU must help maintain stability and further democracy in partner states. Paweł Dariusz Wiśniewski 3 Introduction The year 2013 is supposed to be an especially crucial one for the European Union s Eastern Partnership (EaP) program. Four years after launching this ambitious program for three Eastern European (Ukraine, Belarus, and the Republic of Moldova 1 ) and three Southern Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) states, both the European Union (EU) and the EaP countries 2 lack strict decisiveness on their further steps within the framework of the initiative. Still, it is far from legitimate to refer to the EaP as a success or a failure. It all depends on what was and could have been achieved within these four years in this geographical area. Understandably, the Soviet past still casts a shadow on the political, social, and cultural life of the EaP states. Hence, for some, just the existence of the EaP and the regular meetings of its institutions (especially those at a high level) might be viewed as a great success, while for others, the program and all of its achievements after these few years are seen as a major fiasco. While often describing this year as the decisive point for the initiative, commentators and EU politicians emphasize that the November EaP Summit in Vilnius should bring tangible results for the program to actually provide a further development potential. 3 Indeed, signing the Association Agreement (AA) with Ukraine and initialing the AA with Georgia and Moldova with a clear conscience would positively influence further cooperation between the EU and the EaP states. Still, to understand and assess future developments of the EaP, the behavior of all three groups of stakeholders (the EU, the EaP states, and Russia) should be taken into account, not just the actions of the EaP countries and the EU, as often explained by scholars. However, both of them do carry most of the blame. The challenges of the EaP must be acknowledged so that both sides can take steps to overcome the hurdles and improve EU-EaP cooperation. The Vilnius Summit could be a perfect point in time to take a look back and reform the program, as a reform and a new perception is what the Eastern Partnership really needs now. What is the Eastern Partnership? The Eastern Partnership was introduced as a joint Polish-Swedish initiative in May 2008 during the meeting of the EU s General Affairs and Foreign Relations Council. 4 The war in Georgia in 2008 speeded up the process by illustrating the potential instability in the neighborhood. In the beginning, the EaP received a rather skeptical reaction from the Eastern Partners and Russia. For example, Kiev saw almost no added value from the project in comparison to what it had been promised before the project s launch, and it did not want to be treated in the same way as such small countries as Armenia or Georgia. Moldovan President Voronin called it another CIS, but based around Brussels, not Moscow. 4 The Eastern Partnership It is High Time to Start a Real Partnership Nevertheless, when it was officially launched in May 2009 in Prague, the Eastern Partnership was perceived by the EaP states more positively than before, yet still with some objections, which became a hurdle for EU-EaP cooperation. It is the Joint Declaration of the Prague Eastern Partnership Summit, 5 signed during the Czech Presidency of the EU Council in May 2009, that should be recognized as the key document outlining the goals and strategies of the EaP. It explains that the main goal of the Eastern Partnership is to create the necessary conditions to accelerate political association and further economic integration between the European and interested partner countries. This should be achieved by the EaP through support for a socio-economic and political transformation in the six partner states, as well as support for closer and more confident cooperation with the EU. At the heart of the EaP are values such as democracy, good governance, and a free market; this is often emphasized by European officials and in EaP documents. Importantly, documents on the EaP tend to show a somewhat too altruistic perception of the initiative. In reality, although the main gain of the EU seems to be a stable and democratic neighborhood, it is obvious that through the EaP Brussels may enhance the role of EU standards and boost its role as an important international player. In addition, the EaP aims at accomplishing fruitful cooperation with and among the EaP states through bilateral and multilateral cooperation. On the bilateral level (partner state EU), the European Union offers, for example, visa liberalization and strengthened energy cooperation, as well as the new Association Agreement (AA). Concerning the latter, the AA is a bilateral document between the EU and a partner state, creating a framework for cooperation. Its final structure and content depend on the particular state, but they relate to the following issues: a) a possible Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), a precondition for which is the World Trade Organization (WTO) membership of the particular EaP state; b) a political dialogue in the sphere of foreign and security affairs; c) justice and domestic affairs; and d) economic and sectoral cooperation. The DCFTA is, arguably, the greatest value added to the previously existing Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCA). 6 The DCFTA carries more obligations for the partner states than the PCA and requires adopting a great part (up to 80 percent) of the EU s acquis communautaire. 7 It is intended to lead to a more beneficial cooperation between the EU and the partner state than an ordinary free trade area and to eliminate non-tariff obstacles by harmonizing legislation between the partners. As explained in the Prague Declaration, the AA aims to underpin political stabilization in the EaP states. Moreover, bilateral regulations within the framework of the EaP should provide grounds for long-term energy cooperation, based on secure transit and supply between the partner states and the EU. Furthermore, the EaP should support mobility of citizens by liberalizing the visa regime, leading to the elimination of EU visas for the partner states in the case of countries that fulfill the conditions of safe and Paweł Dariusz Wiśniewski 5 well-administered mobility. Hence, it should become a framework for cooperation not only with the authorities but also with the people of the EaP countries. Importantly, the EaP does not grant any promises on future EU membership for the partner states, although some European countries have strived to grant such promises. Even though a future membership prospect is not impossible, especially for countries that share the EU s values, the lack of a membership perspective is often perceived as the Achilles heel of the initiative. The creators of the EaP correctly observed that this type of multilateral cooperation could also provide a forum for cooperation not only between the EU member states and the partner states but also among the EaP states themselves, especially since some of the local issues that may complicate closer relations between Brussels and the region have major stakeholders among the EaP countries (for example, the Nagorno-Karabakh issue or energy cooperation). As declared in the Prague Declaration and conducted by the European Commission, multilateral cooperation is based on four thematic platforms in order to organize target-oriented sessions and serve for open and free discussion. Each of them should adopt a set of realistic, core objectives to be discussed at least twice It is obvious that through the EaP Brussels may a year during platform meetings. The platforms are: democracy, good governance, and stability; economic integration enhance the role of EU standards and boost and convergence with EU sectoral policies; energy security; its role as an important international player. and contacts between people. Moreover, multilateral cooperation should be given a further impetus for effectiveness by launching various flagship initiatives such as integrated management of borders; regional energy markets and energy efficiency/renewable energy; diversification of energy supplies (building an alternative pipeline bypassing Russia); and support for small and medium enterprises. While governmental cooperation has as its foundation annual ministerial meetings and meetings of heads of state or government (every two years during the EaP Summits), parliamentary cooperation is supposed to take place through the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly. 8 Last but not least, people-to-people contacts should develop through a Civil Society Forum and a Business Forum. The advantage of such diversified cooperation could be an enhancement of communications channels, thus making the Eastern Partnership not only an authority-based initiative but also opening it up to citizens business people, students, NGOs, activists, and others. Out of a total of about 1.9 billion, only a small part of this sum (about 350 million) is fresh funds designated for this new program for the time period The rest comes from the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) and had been planned to be spent on the six partner states even if the EaP had not existed. It should be emphasized that the funds spent on the Eastern Neighborhood are two times lower than those spent on the Southern Neighborhood. 9 Still, in addition to the ENPI, the EaP 6 The Eastern Partnership It is High Time to Start a Real Partnership Institutional framework for multilateral cooperation within the EaP Eastern Partnership Summit 10 (biannually) Ministerial meetings: Ministers of Foreign Affairs (annually) Other ministerial formulas (depending on the issues to be tackled; ad hoc) Four thematic platforms: Democracy, good governance Economic integration and convergence with EU policies Energy security Contacts between people Flagship Initiatives: Integrated Border Management Program Small- and Medium-sized Enterprise facility Regional energy markets and energy efficiency/renewable energy Environmental governance Prevention of, preparedness for, and response to natural and man-made disasters Diversification of energy supplies (Southern Energy Corridor) the only initiative that has not been launched Euronest Parliamentary Assembly Assembly of Local and Regional Authorities Business Council Civil Society Forum Based on the work of Pelczynska-Nalecz 11 has the mandate of the European Investment Bank ( 1.5 billion), the European Investment Facility ( 700 million), and other EU and non-eu based tools (within the framework of the Visegrad Group) to be invested in the region. The way funds are supposed to be invested is strictly connected to the financial means of the Eastern Partnership. While it is often said that the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) is based on the more for more policy, which means for more will and actual reforms in certain countries, the EU offers more in the financial and political sense, only 10 percent (!) of all ENP funds is spent that way, as Undersecretary of State of the Polish Ministry for Foreign Affairs Ms. Pelczynska-Nalecz notes. 12 Most of the funds are already distributed among the partner states beforehand. Therefore, what is so often preached by Brussels does not function in the way that it is often represented. 13 Main Accomplishments of the Eastern Partnership The official standpoint of Brussels and national EU-politicians from countries interested in the EaP (such as Poland or Lithuania) is that the Eastern Partnership has achieved a lot. Still, they often mention that much is still to be accomplished. Paweł Dariusz Wiśniewski 7 However trivial it might seem, one of the biggest accomplishments of the EaP is that it still really exists. When comparing it to the EU s Southern Neighborhood mirror initiative, which received more funds, at least the meetings of the EaP (especially on the higher levels) still take place regularly. Importantly, the difference is huge not only due to occurrences connected to the Arab Spring and the change of leadership in those countries but also due to the readiness of EU and partner states to come closer to each other, as cultural differences may play a crucial role in these relations. The Association Agreement (with the DCFTA component) with Ukraine, which is ready to be signed at the Vilnius Summit if Ukraine fulfills some additional criteria (mainly connected to releasing former prime minister Tymoshenko and reforming the judicial system), as well as the Association Agreements with Georgia, Moldova, and Armenia, which are almost ready to be initialed in November, are among the achievements of the Eastern Partnership. Still, EU Commissioner Füle explained that the AA (even without the DCFTA component) with Armenia will not be signed if Yerevan decides to join the Kremlin-supported Customs Union project, as it surprisingly brought up in September. The talks on the AA with Azerbaijan lag behind, while the negotiations with Belarus have not even started. The most crucial issue for the EaP counties (Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia) is the visa liberalization process, which is also bringing slow but tangible results. The two former states are already in the final stage of the process. The establishment of new institutions, such as the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, the Civil Society Forum (CSF), the Business Forum, and the Assembly of Local and Regional Authorities, and the conduct of regular meetings by them should be perceived as a positive step in multilateral cooperation among the EaP and EU states. Only successful cooperation on the multilateral level can fully reveal the great influence that the EaP might have. The CSF (with a relatively significant representation of Belarusian citizens and NGOs) is especially well-managed on a daily basis and has regular contact with EU and EaP citizens through social media and the Internet. Together with the Business Forum, it has provided a significant platform for non-political cooperation. Speaking of people-to-people contact, academics from some EaP states may participate in EU programs and exchanges. The EU created various initiatives promoting student exchanges, youth programs, and school cooperation between EU and EaP states (such as Youth in Action, Erasmus, and Tempus). The Imperfect Side As mentioned, EU authorities comment that a lot still has to be done for the EaP to bring the results that were planned. While the Association Agreement with Ukraine indisputably the key EaP state is ready to be signed, it is often not mentioned that the talks on further economic and political cooperation had begun even before the launch of the EaP. 8 The Eastern Partnership It is High Time to Start a Real Partnership Hence, the program cannot be seen as a great tool for enhancing Ukrainian democratic stability (even if it existed) but rather as an additional instrument in Brussels-Kiev relations. Still, further pro-european reforms and their implementation in the four more open states (Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) are questionable, as they would endanger the position of the authorities who seem extremely willing to stay in power at all (even undemocratic) costs, (except for the overwhelmingly unstable Moldovan government). Thus, it is not surprising that the Belarusian regime was not condemned by the other EaP states authorities in a declaration during the EaP Summit in Warsaw. This unity was nothing special, as any one of them could be the next in line to be criticized. Surprisingly, however, at the beginning of September 2013, Armenian President Sargsyan announced that he will join the Russian-led Customs Union. 14 The DCFTA component the cherry on top of the AA cannot be initialed due to different tariffs and trade-related issues between the EU and the Customs Union. The over 1000-page Association Agreement could theoretically be signed but without the DCFTA component. It would have to be changed, as all of the trade-related issues for cooperation have to be crossed out. What would remain in the agreement are mainly phrases concerning cooperation in foreign relations (which are rather useless in light of Moscow s great economic and milit
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