Commissioner: future Association Agreements with Eastern Partners are game changer in post-soviet space

At the Eastern Partnership Vilnius Summit on 28-29 November, the EU will aim to sign one of the Association Agreements (with Ukraine) and initial others, in what EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle described as “a quantum leap towards the real transformation in that post soviet space” and “a game changer”, ENPI Info Centre reprots.

Addressing the EU Neighbourhood East Parliamentary Assembly (EURONEST) in Brussels on May 28, Füle said the EU and its partners would seek “to deliver on the most far reaching agreement the EU ever concluded with partners, an Association Agreement (AA) including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA); an instrument for political association and economic integration.”

The Commissioner voiced hope that at the summit, Association Agreements will also be initialed with Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and progress will be achieved over the visa liberalisation action plans with some countries. Besides, the summit is expected to deliver on concrete infrastructure projects, such as the Eastern Partnership transport network, said Füle.

In his speech, Štefan Füle addressed the issue of how to steer the EU’s relations with the Eastern Partners in the future, once the Association Agreements are signed. He said it would be challenging to keep the level of engagement as high and intensive as during the process of negotiations.

The Vilnius summit will be about differentiation, Füle emphasized, citing the “more for more” principle underlying the Eastern Partnership. “It is not only that the more you commit to reforms the more support you get but also the more ambitious you are the more demanding we get and the more we expect from you especially from the countries that have a European Union aspiration,” the Commissioner stressed.

Turning to the role of the civil society, Füle said it was increasingly involved in building the Partnership through National platforms as well as at a multinational level.

As regards EU-Russia relations, the Commissioner said “the more we cooperate with our partners the more we feel the need to strengthen and widen the exchange of views with Russia” over a range of issues, including those related to the shared neighbourhood. In particular, he referred to the lack of compatibility between the future Association Agreements (with the Eastern Partners) and (Russia’s) Customs union. Füle said the EU was keen for its partners “to strengthen their relationships with Russia” and was ready to discuss with the Eastern Partners and Moscow the policies of the Customs union and Eurasian union “where the partners could participate without putting into question the content of the Association Agreement negotiations.”

The Commissioner cited the EU’s offer to strengthen contacts between the European Commission and Eurasian union on some of the most important areas such as the regulatory framework, stressing: “We are keen to see that the European Union regulatory work is compatible with the Eurasian union side.”

Source: ENPI Info Centre