Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Policy paper " Institution-Building Instruments in the Eastern Partnership: Still Drawing on Enlargement?"


The Eastern Partnership (EaP), launched in 2009, clearly created new multilateral institutions in EU policy towards the East. However, in parallel, it drew the line for a reinforcement of bilateral cooperation at various levels. One may mention the reinforcement of the contractual relations with the neighbours through the negotiation of Association Agreements (AA), Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA), visa liberalization, cooperation in the field of energy, the support to economic and social policies, and, finally, assistance aimed at strengthening institutional capacities in order to meet the requirements of the AA, DCFTA and other subsequent measures.  The reason why this paper focuses on one of these issues only – institution-building – may be summarized as follows: without institutional capacity, the AA, the DCFTA and institutional reforms cannot be correctly implemented, and neither the EU nor the partner countries can prove their ability to deliver policies.

In this paper, we argue that through the promotion of institution-building in the bilateral aspects of its foreign policy, the EU is still following the path of EU enlargement despite a politically different context – albeit mainly in its procedures. While the ENP is now under the competencies of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the bilateral relations with the neighbours are still being defined by the European Commission. This institution, in contrast to the EU members, is still very much inspired by the Eastern enlargement in the definition of its procedures toward the neighbours and promotes a differentiated  approach with the partners.

It is therefore not surprising to see that three instruments, Twinning, TAIEX and SIGMA, have been transferred and adapted to the ENP. In order to support further reforms, the Commission introduced financial incentives and the Governance Facility, which was inspired by the cooperation in the South, but also a specific procedure called the Comprehensive Institution-Building (CIB) programme, which was created in 2009 with the Eastern Partnership and inspired by EU accession. It is thus interesting to first investigate where the instruments for institution-building originated from and how they have evolved in the ENP before attempting to understand their innovative use in the Eastern Partnership.

Dr Elsa Tulmets

Read policy paper Institution-Building Instruments in the Eastern Partnership: Still Drawing on Enlargement?

(Published in Eastern Partnership Review No 6, December 2011)

Source of information – Estonian center of Eastern Partnership

Project funded by the European UnionEU