The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is the European Union’s programme that is regarded as an Eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy. It is an EU framework for strengthening relations with countries of Eastern Europe and South Caucasus, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
EaP aims at bringing closer partner countries to European standards by grounding the cooperation on values of democracy, rule of law, human rights, basic freedoms, market economy, sustainable development and good governance. The EU intends to achieve this objective by encouraging and supporting political and socio-economical reforms in the target region.
Remarkably, the EaP is not a strategy of the enlargement. The EU offers Association Agreements along with Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements and Visa liberalisation process. Singing Association Agreement stands for privileged political and economical mutual relations, adoption of the EU standards and partially EU law and is a sign that a given state chose pro-European direction in its foreign policy.
The cooperation within EaP is conducted with each country individually on the bilateral level as well as collectively on the multilateral level. The second dimension is based on work of four thematic platforms:
- Democracy, good governance and stability
- Economic integration and convergence with EU policies
- Energy security
- Contacts between people.
Noticeably, EaP as part of the EU external policy is directed not only to governments but for the first time it addresses the Eastern European society. Civil society was recognised by EU officials as a crucial element of implementation of reforms in the EaP countries. This fact creates a framework that enables AEGEE European Students’ Forum to launch its own initiative of this kind and actively contribute in the youth area.