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Commissioner Štefan Füle on official visit to South Caucasus

Commission Européenne - IP/10/406   06/04/2010

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IP/10/406

Brussels, 6 April 2010

Commissioner Štefan Füle on official visit to South Caucasus

Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle is visiting Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia on 6-9 April.

"Each and every of our partner countries is the master of its own success in getting closer to the EU'' stated Commissioner Füle prior to the visit. The EU is offering through the Eastern Partnership closer economic integration, deeper political cooperation through the proposal to engage in negotiations of Association Agreements with the partner countries. This important visit will provide one more opportunity to stress the EU intention to take forward the broad agenda we have developed with the three countries in the context of the Eastern Partnership.

Background

The EaP concentrates on four policy dimensions: bi- and multilateral relations, governance and financial assistance. In terms of bilateral relations, the Eastern Partnership foresees Association Agreements including strengthened trade relations and enhanced political dialogue, whereas multilateral relations focus on energy projects. The EaP also aims at facilitating social development and creating stability, improving administrative capacities, enhancing regional cooperation by engaging with a wide range of international top and mid-level actors. The key objectives include the creation of a free trade area and gradual visa liberalization. The initiative also foresees meetings of Heads of State or Government of the EaP countries to be held every two years and yearly meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia each have an action plan under the ENP, designed to help, inter alia, their closer trade and economic integration with the EU, in particular through gradual regulatory alignment. The implementation of the action plans should also enable the countries to progressively become ready to negotiate, implement and sustain a deep and comprehensive free trade area with the EU.

The new EU Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative launched in May 2009 builds upon the ENP and aims at overall enhancing the EU relations with the Eastern ENP countries. The EaP has brought in particular a perspective of new enhanced bilateral framework agreements – Association Agreements - between the EU and its Eastern Neighbours, and firmly embedded possible future bilateral deep and comprehensive free trade areas in this framework. A future Association Agreement would include either establishment of a deep and comprehensive free trade area or at least an objective of establishing such a free trade area in the future once the partner country has become ready for it. In long-term, the partner countries are also encouraged to establish deep and comprehensive free trade areas among themselves.

Through the ENPI (European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instruments), the EU provides financial and technical assistance to support the regulatory alignment of the partners' trade and investment related laws and practices.

For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/we/index_en.htm


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