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Balkan and Eastern European Comparisons: Building a New Momentum for the European integration of the Balkan and Eastern European associated states. CEPS Policy Contribution 25 Feb 2021.

Emerson, Michael and Blockmans, Steven and Cenusa, Denis and Kovziridze, Tamara and Movchan, Veronika (2021) Balkan and Eastern European Comparisons: Building a New Momentum for the European integration of the Balkan and Eastern European associated states. CEPS Policy Contribution 25 Feb 2021. [Policy Paper]

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    The EU created the Eastern Partnership (EaP) over a decade ago, opening up new possibilities for growth and investment for the six partner countries: Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan. In 2014, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, known as the EU-associated Trio, signed association agreements (AAs), which since then have helped them to advance further with governance reforms. The AAs have provided for an ambitious and wide-ranging policy dialogue and cooperation with the EU, including deep and comprehensive free trade agreements that are the most advanced integration instruments of the EU to date. This courageous step by the EU has opened a new chapter in the relationship with our eastern neighbours, helping them to commit to comprehensive governance reforms as well as policy dialogue. The EU East Neighbourhood region has seen more than a decade of conflict – Russia at war with Georgia, then with Ukraine, its eastern territories occupied, and Crimea annexed. The EU and the wider global community responded by developing a comprehensive strategy to assist reforms in Ukraine but fell short of wider-reaching policy proposals for deeper integration with the EU. Nonetheless, the most advanced countries of the EaP have embarked on a path of difficult and painful policy reforms in such sensitive sectors as justice, budgets, land, pensions, state-owned enterprises, education and social policy. Despite both hidden and open wars with Russia and the continuous negative hybrid influences, illicit financial flows and corrupt practices inherited from Soviet times and coming from Putin’s regime, the EU-associated Trio has achieved a lot. The exemplary progress of these countries has brought more stability and prosperity to the region. Moreover, in the first five years of association, the Trio has been able to catch up with the countries of the Western Balkans, which already had an EU membership perspective as a result of the resolute EU policy launched in the region nearly ten years ago. Now, the EaP region is approaching a new wave of changes. Constant geopolitical shifts have culminated in the democratic changes we are observing in the eastern neighbourhood today. It is today that the EU must take the next brave geopolitical step. It is today, when the people in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood – in the middle of the European continent – are demanding change, democracy and respect for human rights, starting with events in Belarus and Russia. It is today that our policy has to grow in ambition if the EU wants to remain geopolitical for the next decade.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > External relations > EU-Central and Eastern Europe
    EU policies and themes > External relations > EU-South-Eastern Europe (Balkans)
    EU policies and themes > External relations > enlargement (see Treaty reform)
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for European Policy Studies (Brussels) > CEPS Policy Contributions
    Depositing User: Daniel Pennell
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2021 10:58
    Number of Pages: 60
    Last Modified: 01 Mar 2021 11:02

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