The Eastern Partnership represents an initiative for strengthening and deepening the cooperation between the European Union and the states covered by the Eastern dimension (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine) of the European Neighbourhood Policy in the view of supporting and accelerating gradual rapprochement of those states with the EU.
Being officially launched on 7 May 2009 at the Prague Eastern Partnership Summit, the initiative is governed by the principles of joint ownership, differentiation and conditionality. At the same time, common values, like democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights, as well as principles of market economy, sustainable development and good governance are at the basis of this partnership.
The Eastern Partnership fits into the extended cooperation format of the European Neighbourhood Policy, designed in the context of the 2004 EU enlargement, aiming at avoiding the creation of new dividing lines, as well as at bringing new neighbours from Eastern and Southern Europe closer to the political and economic level of the EU and sharing with them the EU’s system of values.
The Eastern Partnership is a political instrument of the EU, which organises the cooperation framework with the partner states in two dimensions:
- bilateral through signing and implementation of Association Agreements (AA), gradual establishment of deep and comprehensive free trade areas (AA / DCFTA) and visa liberalisation;
- multilateral, which is put into practice by means of those four thematic platforms, working panels at expert level and pilot programmes.
The cooperation within the parliamentary dimension of the EaP is carried out in the framework of the EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly.
CORLEAP is a platform which brings together partner states in the framework of the Committee of Regions of the EU. EaP Civil Society Forum facilitates strengthening of the role and ensures involvement of the civil society in implementation of the partnership’s goals, in particular with regards to putting into practice of the Association Agreements. In 2012 R. Moldova was the first non-EU country, which organised the Civil Society Forum.
Vilnius EaP Summit of 28 – 29 November 2013 assessed the progress achieved by those 6 partner states, establishing goals for 2014 – 2015, until reaffirming the EU commitment with regard to the Eastern partner states and displaying a deeper, but at the same time differentiated, EU – 6 partners cooperation agenda in the framework of the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit of 21 – 22 May 2015. The fifth EaP Summit took place in Brussels on 24 November 2017.