EU Council meeting — Conclusions on Eastern Partnership

The Coun­cil adopt­ed the fol­low­ing con­clu­sions:
1. The Coun­cil recalls its Con­clu­sions of 26 July 2010 on the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy (ENP). It reit­er­ates its com­mit­ment to a strong ENP includ­ing its region­al dimen­sions. The Coun­cil also recalls the Dec­la­ra­tion by the Euro­pean Coun­cil on the East­ern Part­ner­ship of 19/20 March 2009, as well as the Joint Dec­la­ra­tion of the Prague East­ern Part­ner­ship Sum­mit of 7 May 2009 which estab­lished the East­ern Part­ner­ship as a spe­cif­ic East­ern dimen­sion of the ENP. It con­firms the strate­gic impor­tance for the Euro­pean Union of pro­mot­ing sta­bil­i­ty, good gov­er­nance and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment in its East­ern neigh­bour­hood. The EU is com­mit­ted to deep­en­ing rela­tions and strength­en­ing coop­er­a­tion with its East­ern part­ners.

2. Since its launch at the Prague Sum­mit, the East­ern Part­ner­ship has rein­vig­o­rat­ed the EU’s pol­i­cy towards its East­ern part­ners (Arme­nia, Azer­bai­jan, Belarus, Geor­gia, the Repub­lic of Moldo­va and Ukraine), with a view to cre­at­ing the nec­es­sary con­di­tions for polit­i­cal asso­ci­a­tion and fur­ther eco­nom­ic inte­gra­tion between the Euro­pean Union and inter­est­ed part­ner coun­tries. It has cre­at­ed a mean­ing­ful polit­i­cal frame­work for deep­en­ing rela­tions with the part­ner coun­tries, includ­ing coop­er­at­ing on reform. Through the East­ern Part­ner­ship, the EU will con­tin­ue to sup­port polit­i­cal and socio-eco­nom­ic reforms of the part­ner coun­tries, facil­i­tat­ing approx­i­ma­tion and con­ver­gence towards the Euro­pean Union. The Coun­cil recalls that the East­ern Part­ner­ship is found­ed on mutu­al inter­ests and com­mit­ments, as well as on shared own­er­ship and respon­si­bil­i­ty.

3. It is now impor­tant for the dynam­ics of the process to be main­tained so that fur­ther tan­gi­ble results can be made. The sec­ond East­ern Part­ner­ship Sum­mit in Budapest in May 2011 will pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty to take stock of progress made and give guid­ance for the future.

4. The Coun­cil recalls that the active engage­ment of the part­ner coun­tries and their com­mit­ment to shared val­ues and prin­ci­ples, includ­ing democ­ra­cy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and good gov­er­nance are essen­tial to take the process for­ward and to make the nego­ti­a­tion and the sub­se­quent imple­men­ta­tion of ambi­tious future Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ments a suc­cess. The EU is com­mit­ted to assist­ing the part­ner coun­tries in this regard.

5. The Coun­cil under­lines that progress on the bilat­er­al track of the East­ern Part­ner­ship, on the basis of the own mer­its of each of the part­ner coun­tries, remains essen­tial. This includes the upgrad­ing of bilat­er­al con­trac­tu­al rela­tions, and, in this con­text, devel­op­ing Com­pre­hen­sive Insti­tu­tion-Build­ing with each of the part­ners, as well as pro­mot­ing the mobil­i­ty of cit­i­zens in a well man­aged and secure envi­ron­ment, and strength­en­ing ener­gy secu­ri­ty. In the same con­text, the EU will con­tin­ue to pur­sue the estab­lish­ment of Deep and Com­pre­hen­sive Free Trade Areas with East­ern part­ners once they have met the nec­es­sary con­di­tions.

6. The Coun­cil notes the progress made so far in nego­ti­a­tions with Ukraine on a future Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment, includ­ing the estab­lish­ment of a Deep and Com­pre­hen­sive Free Trade Area, and encour­ages fur­ther efforts on both sides so that the nego­ti­a­tions can be finalised soon. Nego­ti­a­tions with the Repub­lic of Moldo­va on a future Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment have made very good progress since they were launched in Jan­u­ary this year. Fur­ther­more, the acces­sion of Ukraine and the Repub­lic of Moldo­va to the Ener­gy Com­mu­ni­ty offers a con­crete per­spec­tive for the inte­gra­tion of both coun­tries in the EU’s inter­nal ener­gy mar­ket on the basis of align­ment with the rel­e­vant acquis. As for future Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ments with Arme­nia, Azer­bai­jan and Geor­gia, the Coun­cil wel­comes the launch of nego­ti­a­tions in July and hopes that these will progress swift­ly. The extent of Belarus’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in the bilat­er­al track of the East­ern Part­ner­ship con­tin­ues to depend on inter­nal polit­i­cal devel­op­ments in Belarus. The EU will there­fore con­tin­ue to fol­low the sit­u­a­tion per­tain­ing to democ­ra­cy and human rights in Belarus.

7. The Coun­cil reit­er­ates the impor­tance it attach­es to peo­ple-to-peo­ple con­tacts as a means to pro­mote mutu­al under­stand­ing, as well as busi­ness, civ­il soci­ety and cul­tur­al ties. Recall­ing the Stock­holm Pro­gramme and the Joint Dec­la­ra­tion of the Prague Sum­mit, the Coun­cil reit­er­ates its com­mit­ment to pro­mote mobil­i­ty of cit­i­zens of the East­ern part­ner coun­tries through visa facil­i­ta­tion and read­mis­sion agree­ments, and once these are suc­cess­ful­ly con­clud­ed and imple­ment­ed, to take grad­ual steps towards full visa lib­er­al­i­sa­tion as a long term goal for indi­vid­ual part­ner coun­tries on a case-by-case basis pro­vid­ed that con­di­tions for well-man­aged and secure mobil­i­ty are in place.

8. With regard to Ukraine, the EU-Ukraine visa dia­logue exam­in­ing the con­di­tions for visa free trav­el as a long-term goal should now enter a ful­ly oper­a­tional phase on the basis of an action plan set­ting out all tech­ni­cal con­di­tions to be met by Ukraine before the pos­si­ble estab­lish­ment of a visa-free trav­el regime. The action plan will be “two phased” and will be tai­lored to Ukraine’s cur­rent progress. It will con­tain two tiers of bench­marks: pre­lim­i­nary bench­marks con­cern­ing the pol­i­cy frame­work (leg­is­la­tion and plan­ning), which in turn will pave the way for meet­ing more spe­cif­ic bench­marks, cov­er­ing effec­tive and sus­tain­able imple­men­ta­tion of rel­e­vant mea­sures includ­ing con­crete results on the ground. More­over, the effec­tive imple­men­ta­tion of visa facil­i­ta­tion and read­mis­sion agree­ments will remain of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance.

Through the Coun­cil, EU Mem­ber States will be ful­ly asso­ci­at­ed in the dif­fer­ent steps of the process, includ­ing by being con­sult­ed on the draft action plan and both sets of bench­marks. The draft action plan will take into account the expert analy­sis pro­duced dur­ing the explorato­ry phase of the visa dia­logue and will be accom­pa­nied by an ini­tial assess­ment of the impact of pos­si­ble future visa lib­er­al­i­sa­tion. The Coun­cil will also be kept informed through Com­mis­sion reports on the ful­fil­ment of the first set of bench­marks, in view of tak­ing a deci­sion to ini­ti­ate an assess­ment of the sec­ond set of more spe­cif­ic bench­marks. Fur­ther­more, Mem­ber State experts will par­tic­i­pate in the mon­i­tor­ing mis­sions con­duct­ed by the Com­mis­sion ser­vices and in reg­u­lar con­sul­ta­tions in rel­e­vant Coun­cil Work­ing Groups. The Coun­cil under­lines that there will be no auto­matic­i­ty in this process and progress in the ful­fil­ment of bench­marks will be close­ly exam­ined and decid­ed upon by the Com­mis­sion and the Coun­cil.

9. The Coun­cil notes that this approach could serve as a mod­el for oth­er East­ern Part­ner­ship coun­tries bear­ing in mind the speci­fici­ty and progress of each coun­try.

10. The Coun­cil reit­er­ates the impor­tance of peo­ple-to-peo­ple con­tacts and wel­comes the open­ing in June 2010 of the visa dia­logue exam­in­ing the con­di­tions for visa-free trav­el of cit­i­zens of the Repub­lic of Moldo­va to the EU as a long-term goal. On the basis of the explorato­ry phase of the dia­logue, the Coun­cil under­lines the achieve­ments made so far, the exist­ing chal­lenges and the impor­tance of fur­ther reform efforts by the Repub­lic of Moldo­va, and invites the Com­mis­sion to pre­pare a draft action plan, in line with the approach set out in para­graphs eight and nine of these Con­clu­sions, set­ting out all the con­di­tions to be met by the Repub­lic of Moldo­va before the pos­si­ble estab­lish­ment of a visa-free trav­el regime, with a view to the visa dia­logue enter­ing a ful­ly oper­a­tional phase as soon as appro­pri­ate. Through the Coun­cil, EU Mem­ber States will be ful­ly asso­ci­at­ed in the dif­fer­ent steps of the process, includ­ing by being con­sult­ed on the draft action plan and both sets of bench­marks. The effec­tive imple­men­ta­tion of the read­mis­sion agree­ment will remain impor­tant in this con­text

11. In this way, in work­ing towards a pos­si­ble future visa free trav­el regime, the EU will seek to pro­vide incen­tives for reforms in the JLS domain and pro­mote con­di­tions for secure and well­man­aged mobil­i­ty using a coun­try-spe­cif­ic approach, while at the same time ensur­ing region­al coher­ence in the approach adopt­ed towards visa lib­er­al­i­sa­tion with the East­ern Part­ner­ship coun­tries and also Rus­sia.

12. In this con­text, in accor­dance with the Stock­holm Pro­gramme and the Joint Dec­la­ra­tion of the Prague East­ern Part­ner­ship Sum­mit, the Coun­cil has invit­ed the Com­mis­sion to devel­op before the end of 2010 a plan on how to take coop­er­a­tion with the East­ern Part­ner­ship coun­tries for­ward in the area of Jus­tice, Free­dom and Secu­ri­ty. This plan should also list the grad­ual steps towards visa lib­er­al­i­sa­tion as a long-term goal for indi­vid­ual East­ern part­ner coun­tries on a case-by-case basis, as well as describe the con­di­tions for well-man­aged and secure mobil­i­ty.

13. The Coun­cil reit­er­ates its con­cern that unre­solved con­flicts in the East­ern neigh­bour­hood con­tin­ue to ham­per not only the eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal devel­op­ment of the part­ner coun­tries, but also region­al coop­er­a­tion and the sta­bil­i­ty of the Euro­pean con­ti­nent. The EU remains com­mit­ted to sup­port the agreed nego­ti­at­ing for­mats and process­es aimed at a peace­ful and last­ing set­tle­ment of con­flicts in the region, and calls on the par­ties to ful­ly com­mit them­selves to these process­es.

14. The Coun­cil notes with sat­is­fac­tion the progress made in imple­men­ta­tion of the mul­ti­lat­er­al track of the East­ern Part­ner­ship as a vehi­cle for pro­mot­ing coop­er­a­tion, open dia­logue, and the exchange of expe­ri­ence and best prac­tices, thus serv­ing the objec­tives of the East­ern Part­ner­ship. The four the­mat­ic plat­forms have adopt­ed Work Pro­grammes for 2010-11 and have estab­lished a num­ber of Pan­els. Sev­er­al Flag­ship ini­tia­tives have also been set up. The Coun­cil looks for­ward to the fur­ther imple­men­ta­tion of con­crete region­al activ­i­ties and projects agreed, in par­tic­u­lar in the frame­work of the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood and Part­ner­ship Instru­ment (ENPI). The Coun­cil sup­ports the fur­ther involve­ment of civ­il soci­ety in the work of the mul­ti­lat­er­al track of the East­ern Part­ner­ship through the Civ­il Soci­ety Forum. The Coun­cil also under­lines the oppor­tu­ni­ties offered by the mul­ti­lat­er­al track for build­ing trust and pro­mot­ing coop­er­a­tion among the part­ner coun­tries, and with the EU and its Mem­ber States. The Coun­cil recalls the impor­tance of the part­ner coun­tries con­tin­u­ing to make full use of the mul­ti­lat­er­al track to this end.

15. The Coun­cil recalls that third coun­tries are eli­gi­ble for par­tic­i­pa­tion on a case-by-case basis in con­crete projects, activ­i­ties and meet­ings of the­mat­ic plat­forms, where it con­tributes to the objec­tives of par­tic­u­lar activ­i­ties and the gen­er­al objec­tives of the East­ern Part­ner­ship.

16. The Coun­cil looks for­ward to the East­ern Part­ner­ship Min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ing to be held in Brus­sels in Novem­ber 2010, which will pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty to take stock of the imple­men­ta­tion of the East­ern Part­ner­ship. It will also allow the EU and the part­ner coun­tries to dis­cuss the fur­ther imple­men­ta­tion of the East­ern Part­ner­ship with a view to sup­port­ing fur­ther reforms and strength­en­ing and deep­en­ing the rela­tions between the EU and the part­ner coun­tries on the basis of com­mon val­ues.

Source:
Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union

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