Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Beyond the Vilnius Summit: challenges for deeper EU integration with Eastern Europe

The 2009 Eastern Partnership (EaP) represented a turning point in the European Union's (EU) engagement with post- Soviet states. The EaP extended the integration path initially only to Ukraine – the regional 'frontrunner' to other eastern EU neighbours. This path includes 'political cooperation and economic integration' through Association Agreements (AA) with Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA), progressive visa liberalisation and sectoral cooperation.

The AAs with DCFTAs, in particular, signal a major change in the EU's approach to its neighbourhood. In the East, previous EU instruments only helped to familiarise partner countries with EU regulations. In contrast, the DCFTAs entail

more wide-ranging and far-reaching approximation. The AAs, the longest and most detailed agreements of their kind, contain detailed and binding provisions on partner countries to align their laws and policies with the acquis, signalling a

shift from soft- to hard-law commitments. Compared to previous EU policies, the EaP toolbox has greater potential to induce and stimulate domestic reforms in the region.

Full article

Project funded by the European UnionEU