The EU’s Eastern Partnership between a rock and a hard place

Johann Wolfschwenger: The EU's Eastern Partnership between a rock and a hard place, AIES Fokus 9/2020

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11.08.2020


The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is the frame- work policy for the engagement between the European Union (EU) and six East- European states – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The recent revisions of the EaP bring to the fore a growing discrepancy between expectations of pro-European actors in the neighbourhood states and the actual policy pursued by the EU Commission. As a result, the neighbourhood countries find themselves in a 'strategic dilemma': On the one hand, reform efforts and 'European aspirations' may not be adequately awarded with integration steps, let alone a membership perspective. On the other hand, EU integration further nurtures rivalling regionalisms between the EU and Russia, which make it hard for the neighbourhood states to balance between the two. However, this rivalry is clearly of political nature. From an economic perspective, enhanced free trade between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the EU would bring benefits for the members of both organizations.