IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Progress in relations between the EU and five Eastern Neighbours: Commission releases new reports
The individual reports on progress in relations between the European Union and five of its Neighbours in the East, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, have been released by the European Commission. These documents cover progress made on the implementation of each country’s ENP Action Plan (AP) between 1 January and 31 December 2010.
Two other reports made public by the Commission cover what has been achieved in the various cooperation sectors (sectoral report) and progress in the Eastern Partnership, in the same period.
All the reports, not only for the Neighbours in the East but also for seven Neighbours in the South, were released on 25 May together with the EC’s landmark Communication – A new response to a changing Neighbourhood – launching a “new and ambitious” Neighbourhood policy.
An introduction and links to all the reports for the East follows:
The report finds that, overall, in 2010 Armenia made some progress in the area of political dialogue and reform. Positive steps were taken to overcome the political crisis, and good progress was reported on decriminalisation of defamation and on strengthening of the Office of the Human Rights Defender. Some progress was made on enhancing transparency in the court system but none on enhancing the independence of the Judiciary. Progress regarding media pluralism was limited though freedom of expression and information improved slightly.
In view of the severe recession resulting from the global economic crisis, in November 2010 the EU and Armenia agreed a €100 million financial assistance package. Nevertheless, the crisis hampered progress towards economic reform, poverty reduction and the protection of the environment.
Country report: Armenia – Download the PDF
EU Delegation fact sheet on the progress report
Overall, Azerbaijan made some progress in implementing the ENP AP, the report says, in particular in the area of macro-economic stability and efforts to address poverty and attain socio-economic equilibrium. Good progress was made in the field of energy cooperation, including Azerbaijan’s support to the Southern Gas Corridor.
Azerbaijan needs to make significant further efforts to meet AP commitments in the field of democracy, including electoral processes, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the independence of the judiciary. In this respect the EU noted with concern an increasing number of reported arrests of youth activists in the country in February, March and April 2011 and other measures of intimidation as well as restrictions on the freedom of expression and assembly.
Country report: Azerbaijan – Download the PDF
The report finds that overall, Georgia made progress in the implementation of the ENP AP priorities throughout 2010, especially in reforming the justice system, improving the conduct of elections, increasing women’s rights, carrying out constitutional reform, reforms in trade and business related areas, and regional development, as well as substantially curbing administrative corruption.
At the same time, Georgia needs to accelerate its efforts to consolidate democracy, especially as regards political and media pluralism. The rights and integration of minorities and corruption among high-ranking officials remain areas where more efforts are needed.
Country report: Georgia – Download the PDF
In spite of the unresolved political stalemate over the election of the next President of the Republic, the report says Moldova made good progress overall in most areas of the AP. Progress was achieved in the legislative field as well as at the implementation level. Efforts were initiated to address the administrative capacity problems underlined in previous Progress Reports. However the underlying political uncertainty and resource constraints prevented large scale reform. More sustained efforts are needed to fight corruption, to reform the judiciary, prosecution and police, and to implement certain human rights commitments.
The authorities maintained strict macroeconomic policies and launched structural reforms, and by the end of 2010, a post-crisis return to the macro-economic objectives set out in the AP was well underway. Progress towards improving the functioning of the market economy and the business and investment climate through reforms aimed at achieving transparency and predictability of business conditions – another AP objective – was too limited to bear fruit.
The EU proposed an Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation in January 2011.
Country report: Moldova – Download the PDF
Following Presidential elections, Ukraine underwent a change of political leadership in 2010. However, Ukraine set out its commitment to build on steps taken under the ENP AP, which had been replaced by the Association Agenda in late 2009. The initial priority of achieving fiscal consolidation in Ukraine consumed a considerable effort in the administration, but established a framework which had the potential to support the launching of core reforms, the report says. The challenge as the year ended was to accelerate those reforms and to show concrete and sustainable results built upon a transparent and inclusive approach.
Fundamental freedoms such as the freedom of the media and assembly and democratic standards appear to have deteriorated, and progress on political and constitutional reforms in particular has been slow or sporadic.
Against the background of a more stable political situation, and with its initial economic stabilization measures in place, the Government could move forward with important reforms, notably on the constitution, judiciary, electoral law and public administration.
Country report: Ukraine – Download the PDF
EU Delegation fact sheet on the progress report
Sector Progress Report
An overview of ENP partners’ progress, in 2010, on a range of sectoral policies such as: employment; social policy; trade and trade related matters; justice and home affairs issues, including migration, mobility and security; transport; environment; climate change; energy; student mobility; education, culture and health. Strengthening sector dialogue and cooperation with ENP partners is vital to achieving ENP objectives of deepening political dialogue and cooperation and to achieve a very substantial degree of economic integration.
Sector dialogue supports the ongoing, longer-term, deep reform process of partners. Sector reform contributes to greater prosperity for all citizens including the youth and underpins efforts towards better governance. It also helps prepare partners to negotiate and, in the future, to implement deep and comprehensive free trade agreements.
Sector Progress Report – Download the PDF
Eastern Partnership Report
This report covers the progress made in the implementation of the Eastern Partnership since it was launched at the first Eastern Partnership Summit in May 2009, adopting a European Commission proposal for a partnership that includes a deeper bilateral engagement based on new contractual relations, a gradual integration with the EU economy, enhanced mobility and security, cooperation for secure energy supply, and enhanced support for economic and social development.
Significant multilateral projects and programmes have been proposed with the objective of reinforcing the partnership by providing concrete benefits to the partner countries’ population and enhancing its visibility.
Several flagship initiatives, financed from the EU budget, have now been launched in sectors where cooperation between partner countries is crucial to success. In addition, a Civil Society Forum has been established and supported, with the dual goal of supporting the emergence of a strong and effective citizenship in partner countries, and integrate as much as possible the views of civil society in the workings of the Eastern Partnership.
Report: Eastern Partnership – Download the PDF