Remarks by Catherine Ashton EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission after the Extended Ministerial meeting on Eastern Partnership
I am very grateful for this opportunity to meet with partners to discuss the Eastern Partnership. This meeting comes at a particularly timely moment. Events in the Southern part of the European Neighbourhood have underlined the importance of deepening our relations with all partners on the basis of an agenda of systemic political and economic reform.
As a result our commitment today to strengthening relations with our Eastern Neighbours through political association and further economic integration is solid and unwavering.
In nearly two years since its launch, the Eastern Partnership has provided an ambitious and forwardlooking vehicle to achieve these goals. It has provided political impetus in key areas such as our negotiations on new Association Agreements with partners; mobility; trade and investment and energy cooperation.
Through its multilateral track we have developed a network of contacts and expertise at all levels in key areas of mutual concern: government to government; business to business and people to people. We have also supported the establishment of a Civil Society Forum representing civil society in all partner countries and in the European Union, thereby ensuring that civil society has a strong voice in the Eastern Partnership.
We discussed with partners today ways of maximising the impact of the Eastern Partnership and making it more visible. And we reviewed progress in the run up to the Eastern Partnership Summit which will co-hosted by Hungary and Poland in the autumn.
The Eastern Partnership is based on a joint commitment: on the EU’s side to support reform and to bring our Eastern partners closer. On our partners’ side that commitment is to undertake necessary political, economic and sectoral reforms. We recognise renewed efforts are required on both sides if the Eastern Partnership is to be a lasting success.
Above all the Eastern Partnership is about promoting a positive reform agenda leading to closer relations between us. It is deeply practical and concrete. It is not about words. And we should judge the ultimate success of this initiative in practical terms. By this I mean on the basis of: positive democratic developments in partner countries; increases in trade and investment between us; enhanced mobility; improved energy and transport links; the development of ever more dynamic relations between us at every level.
Council of the European Union