Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

A solidarity package for the eastern partners by Iana Dreyer and Nicu Popescu

The year ahead will be a crucial one for the success of the Eastern Partnership (EaP). While Ukraine and  the EU work towards the eventual signature of an  Association Agreement at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November, Moldova and  Georgia will only initial the Agreement, and are not due to sign it until autumn 2014. Since the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) will only become a legal reality for them towards the end of 2014, between now and then they will be vulnerable to external pressures – diplomatic, commercial or energy-related – aimed at disrupting the signing of the agreement. The recent U-turn by Armenia (which chose to join a Russia-led Customs Union rather than sign up to the DCFTA), as well as rising trade pressures on Ukraine and a new wine embargo on Moldova, probably mark just the beginning of a longer escalation of trade-related hostilities. The aim of these pressures is to either divert some of the eastern partners from their EU association agenda, or drastically increase the costs of pursuing this option and weaken the political forces behind proEU moves. As a consequence, they will start paying the economic and geopolitical price for association with the EU well before they start reaping the benefits of it.

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