Future of the Eastern Partnership: keep the success story alive

17 juin 2020

Two days before the Eastern Partnership leaders’ video conference between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries’ Heads of State and government, PLATFORMA organised yesterday (16 June) a webinar to discuss the EaP’s long-term policy objectives with speakers from the three European institutions and representatives of local and regional governments from Georgia, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine.

As stated last week by Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, “The Eastern Partnership is a success story.” To keep the EaP “success story” alive, participants to our webinar all agreed that successful decentralisation and getting local and regional governments on board is essential.

“Did you know that over the last 10 years, more than 100 cooperation agreements were signed between local and regional governments from the European Union and municipalities from the Eastern partnership countries?” asked Marlène Siméon, Director of PLATFORMA, at the opening of the webinar. That was one of the lessons learned at the 1st EU-Eastern Partnership (EaP) local leaders’ summit organised last autumn in Vilnius (Lithuania) by the Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania (ALAL) and PLATFORMA.

The six countries involved in the EaP are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. In his introduction, CEMR Secretary General Frédéric Vallier stressed that municipalities and regions must remain “core players” of the post 2020 EaP.  This was echoed by MEP Petras Auštrevi?ius, author of the European Parliament report on the Eastern Partnership.

According to him, the new EaP framework should focus on the “more for more principle” and should move from “partnership” to “integration”: “Economic cooperation should bring more opportunities and investments, and not vice versa,” he said. The Lithuanian MEP  made clear that“all 6 EaP countries are different and the future cooperation should be based on differentiation approach, including the need of effective decentralisation reforms and

“In the following 10 years, the implementation will be key in order to achieve the EaP as an example of perfect EU foreign neighbour policy,” he concluded

“Tangible results for citizens”

“Over the 10 years, it’s not very much about commitment but also about achievement that have been accomplished,” followed up Vassilis Maragos, Head of Unit EaP at DG NEAR, European Commission.

He underlined the main principles of the EU engaging in the region were about flexibility, joint ownership on deliver and coming closer to citizens, before listing the 5 Policy objectives of the Commission communication.

“There is also a need to engage people on what is being done and counteracting disinformation,” he added.

Dražen Margeta, Head of Sector for Eurasia, Eastern Partnership, Asia and Oceania, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, said it was essential to focus on flexibility. He insisted that The EaP’s future approach should be based on “shared valued and tangible results for citizens”.

Vaida Aleknavi?ien?, deputy mayor of Joniškys municipality in Lithuania and PLATFORMA spokesperson, insisted that the European Union is now better placed to support EaP countries but that the role of local and regional governments was “still not enough detailed”.

“More needs to be done,” said David Melua, Executive Director of National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG), speaking about decentralisation reforms in his country. According to him, harmonisation of municipal sectorial legislation to European standards and investments in local economy with targeted instruments to enforce EU financial instruments is central.

He also called for “a good quality of multilevel governance” to make sure that sectorial measures are rightly implemented.

Iryna Yarmolenko, Councillor of Zhytomyr in Ukraine and PLATFORMA spokesperson, also put municipalities, regions and their representative associations at the center.

She stressed the need to establish international cooperation and cross-border partnerships between municipalities from EU and EaP countries. She also referred to importance of the Charter on Gender Equality for women and men at local level.

Viorel Furdui, Councillor of Straseni municipality and Executive director of the Congress of Local Authorities from Moldova, was particularly grateful to PLATFORMA, CEMR and all networks and structures that voice the concerns of EaP municipalities. According to him, promoting decentalisation and local democracy reforms is as important as justice reforms, fighting corruption and human rights in Moldova.

For more information:

S'inscrire à la newsletter