The Summit, held at the level of Heads of State or Government, brought together the European Union institutions, represented by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, the 28 European Union Member States, and the six Eastern partners, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. They were joined by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy & Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn and the Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström.
The Summit participants agreed a Joint Summit Declaration. In the margins of the Summit, a number of agreements were taken forward, including a new bilateral agreement between the European Union and Armenia; A Common Aviation Area Agreement with Armenia; and the extension of the EU's Trans-European Transport (TEN-T) network to Eastern partners.
"The Eastern Partnership is first and foremost a partnership of people. It is about improving lives in all of our countries, about bringing our societies closer together. It is about standing up for the values, principles and aspirations that people in the European Union and in our eastern neighbourhood collectively share", said the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. "At today's Summit we agreed on a set of 20 concrete actions to complete by 2020. Through the Eastern Partnership, the European Union has helped to create 10,000 jobs, train 20,000 people, and provide over 100,000 loans to companies. We have improved access to free legal services, invested in transport links, promoted gender equality, and helped thousands of students to move between Europe and the Eastern Partnership region. As we look to 2020 and beyond, now is the time for even more action. We are on the right track, let us stay the course."
The full remarks of President Juncker at the joint press conference are available online.
EaP bringing tangible benefits for citizens: 20 deliverables for 2020
Changing for the better the daily lives of citizens lies at the core of the Eastern Partnership. Since the last Summit in Riga in 2015, cooperation has been based on four priority areas:
- Stronger economy: economic development and better market opportunities;
- Stronger governance: strengthening of institutions and good governance;
- Stronger connectivity: enhancing connectivity, notably in the areas of transport and energy, as well as environment and climate change;
- Stronger society: increasing mobility and contacts between people.
Under these priorities, the European Union, its Member States, and the partner countries today endorsed twenty deliverables that set out a clear work plan for the future, to be achieved by the year 2020. These include:
- Broadened outreach and targeted support in particular to grassroots civil society organisations;
- Supporting businesses and providing loans in local currencies, in partnership with key International Financial Institutions;
- Improving the capacity of partner countries to take advantage of the trade opportunities with the EU and with each other;
- Reform commitments and specific investments in the area of energy efficiency;
- Developing better and safer transport links by 2030 with a long-term investment contributing to connecting the partner countries with the EU and amongst themselves;
- A digital package, including concrete steps towards harmonised roaming pricing and reduced roaming tariffs among the partner countries, easier and cheaper access to internet through the roll out of national broadband strategies, and support for job creation in digital industries;
- A substantial new support package to youth and education;
- A comprehensive new communication approach on assistance for the Eastern Partnership, and a stepping-up of strategic communication.
The Summit also endorsed a revised multilateral institutional set-up for the Eastern Partnership, providing for stronger political guidance and a more results-oriented approach to our cooperation.
The Eastern Partnership: A Partnership that delivers
Since the last Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit, which took place in Riga in 2015, significant progress has been achieved in relations between the EU and its six partner countries. Association Agreements including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas with Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine have now fully entered into force, opening new opportunities for closer cooperation on tackling key challenges, as well as economic integration and trade. Trade between the three associated partner countries and the EU has significantly increased. The implementation of these Agreements will be guided by the recently updated Association Agendas. Following a set of demanding reforms, visa free travel to the Schengen area was put in place for the biometric passport holders of Georgia and Ukraine, in addition to that with the Republic of Moldova, in place since 2014.
Relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus have also advanced. Today, the European Union and Armenia signed a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement. This new agreement will enable the European Union and Armenia to work more closely together in order to address the challenges we face and to make the most of the opportunities available to us. Good progress has also been made in negotiations of a new framework agreement with Azerbaijan, while relations with Belarus have been advanced through the newly established Coordination Group. Our future Partnership Priorities with all three countries will set a new strategic framework for our assistance. The Partnership Priorities with Armenia have been agreed and Partnership Priorities are also being discussed now with Azerbaijan and Belarus.
The EU and Armenia also today initialled a Common Aviation Area Agreement. It will improve market access for airlines from both sides and provide for better connectivity, resulting in more choice, better services and lower fares for travellers. The agreement, part of the European Commission Aviation Strategy for Europe, will also establish a common regulatory framework, for instance in the fields of aviation safety and security. More information is available here.
In the area of transport interconnections, the EU and partner countries agreed on the indicative maps extending the EU's Trans-European Transport (TEN-T) core network to the Eastern Partner countries, as a basis to enhance transport connectivity and the identification of common infrastructure priorities. For this purpose, High-Level Understandings have been signed in the margins of the Summit.
Eastern Partnership being shaped by wider society
A number of side events have taken place in the run-up to the Summit, involving civil society, media, businesses, parliaments and other stakeholders. These engagements demonstrate that the EaP goes beyond the inter-governmental relationship and extends to broader society. In the run up to Summit in 2017, the following key side-events were organised:
- The 3rd Eastern Partnership Youth Forum (22-23 June 2017, Warsaw). A series of recommendations on youth policies was adopted.
- The 2nd Eastern Partnership Media Conference (13 September 2017, Kyiv)
- The Eastern Partnership E-partnership Conference (4 October 2017, Tallinn)
- The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Conference (25-26 October 2017, Tallinn) in combination with the 9th Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
- The Eastern Partnership Business Forum (26-27 October 2017, Tallinn)