Next Steps for the Eastern Partnership

ECFR Sofia hosted a session on the prospects for the EU’s policies in the Eastern neighbourhood in cooperation with the Polish Embassy. The group of speakers was joined by a select group of senior diplomats stationed in Sofia, members of the Bulgarian parliament, top government officials, a medley of journalists and think-tankers.

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Guests

Andrzej Cieszkowski, Plenipotentiary of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Eastern Partnership, Warsaw

Jana Kobzova, Russia & Wider Europe Programme co-ordinator, ECFR

Deyan Kyuranov, Centre for Liberal Strategies

Ognyan Minchev, Executive Director, Institute for Regional and International Studies

In July 2010, the EU has launched a review of its European Neighbourhood Policy to take stock of the first five years and to outline a vision for the ENP for the next ten years. As Commissioner for enlargement and neighbourhood policy Štefan Füle stated in the European Parliament in October, all countries covered by the ENP are eager for deeper economic integration, easier mobility, and increased financial co-operation. But EU is not the only actor in its neighbourhood: Russia, US or China continue to play an important role. In addition, there may be a growing gap between what the partners want from the EU and what the Union is ready to offer.

ENP's eastern vector, embodied by the Eastern partnership programme, may be facing more challenges in the future: today, EU can rely on few political allies in the region, whilst growing number of East European capitals think that Brussels has lost interest in further enlargement.

Will the perspective of visa-free regime liberalisation and access to EU single market be enough to boost the Eastern partners' appetite for transformation and absorption of EU acquis? What financial support is the EU ready to grant and how much is enough? What is civil society's role in the Eastern partnership? How can the EU and its Neighbourhood find the balance between promises and dues?