10 Myths about the Eastern Partnership

The European External Action Service has developed a factsheet with general “myths” about the EaP. Entitled “Myths about the Eastern Partnership”, the document lists 10 typical misconceptions of this EU initiative which are often spread by some media outlets and organisations.

The EaP was launched in 2009 to promote political association and economic integration between the EU and its six Eastern Partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

MYTH 1: Participation in the Eastern Partnership leads to EU membership.

FALSE: The Eastern Partnership initiative is not an EU accession process. Its aim is to build a common area of shared democracy, prosperity, stability and increased cooperation. The Eastern Partnership initiative provides an inclusive framework for the European Union Member States, plus Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine

MYTH 2: The Eastern Partnership initiative was designed by the EU to provoke Russia.

FALSE: The Eastern Partnership initiative is not against any country; it is a mutually beneficial and constructive platform for countries in the region to build a closer relationship with the EU, if they so choose. The EU does not demand that any of its partners need to make a choice between the EU or any other countries.

MYTH 3: The Eastern Partnership engenders destabilisation or regime change.

FALSE: The Eastern Partnership’s transformative agenda aims at bringing positive change to the lives of citizens of the European Union and of the Eastern Partnership countries. One of the key ways to achieve this is through embedding and encouraging democratic rules and principles.

MYTH 4: The Eastern Partnership agenda is pushed onto partners against their wishes.

FALSE: The Eastern Partnership is a joint initiative of the European Union and the six partner countries. It was not imposed and countries have the choice as to the level of their engagement and of their ambition.

MYTH 5: EU money is being lost due to corruption.

FALSE: EU funds are always subject to strict monitoring and reporting procedures. Furthermore, corruption hits everyday people the hardest, and that is why one of the top priorities supported by the EU in partner countries is the fight against corruption.

MYTH 6: The Eastern Partnership has allowed mass migration from these countries to the European Union

FALSE: The European Union has agreements in place with Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine that allow their citizens who hold biometric passports to travel to the Schengen Area without a visa for 90 in any 180-day period. They can come for tourism, to visit relatives or friends, or for business purposes, but not to work. Visa facilitation agreements are in place with Armenia and Azerbaijan whereby visas are still required, but there is less of an administrative burden for their citizens to travel to the Schengen Area.

MYTH 7: Free trade opens the door to unfair competition of partner countries’ products on the EU market and cheaper labour

FALSE: Trade relations between the EU and partner countries are mutually beneficial. The eastern partnership countries offer new markets and consumers to European businesses, and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine allow citizens in those countries to benefit from greater choice, quality and safety of products available to them thanks to increased standards of consumer protection.

 MYTH 8: Through the Eastern Partnership, the EU cooperates with leaders that don’t respect democracy or human rights.

FALSE: The European Union was founded on the principles of democracy and the respect for human rights. It is a proponent and defender of these values both within the European Union and beyond its borders. The added value of the Eastern Partnership is that it offers a platform for the Member States of the European Union and the six partner countries to come together, share experience and good practice.

MYTH 9: Membership of the Eastern Partnership means that those countries can’t be members of the Eurasian Economic Union

FALSE: Involvement in the Eastern Partnership initiative does not exclude membership of the Eurasian Economic Union. Armenia and Belarus, for example, participate in both. The EU is asupporter of regional integration in all areas of the world.

MYTH 10: EU citizens don’t benefit from the Eastern Partnership

FALSE: Stable, secure and prosperous countries in our neighbourhood are essential for the EU’s own stability, security, prosperity, and of direct benefit to EU citizens. Building a common area that possesses these qualities is the objective of the Eastern Partnership. Furthermore, the Eastern Partnership brings new markets and consumers for businesses on both sides.