Make the Eastern Partnership great again?
Brussels needs a proper response to the “Trio Plus Strategy 2030” resolution. Tiffany Williams explains how the EU should meet the dissatisfied Eastern Partners, holding the Union to its promises.
In 2015, the EU relegated the European Neighbourhood Policy from a path towards EU membership for the European Eastern Partners – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine – to a reward mechanism for good government behavior.
Four of the Eastern Partners – Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Armenia – felt this unilateral EU decision dismissed their progress. In response, they are now holding the Union to its promises with the “Trio Plus Strategy 2030.”
This time, the EU should meet the agenda-setting with proper expectations management. If membership talks are indeed no longer on the table, Brussels needs to emphasize the financial and strategic importance of a stable partnership and recognize the diligent efforts of the Trio Plus countries. To achieve this, the EU can take three important courses of action:
- Show that the assistance it provides is an investment in the region.
- Re-focus the Eastern Partnership agreements as EU foreign policy processes based on shared interests and responsibilities.
- Repair the cooperative engagement with the Eastern Partner representatives assigned with managing their country’s partnership with the EU.
While acknowledging that expectations have not been met, the EU should make clear that membership talks are not feasible for the EU. However, the considerable support and opportunities that attracted the Partners in the first place are still on offer.
Make the Eastern Partnership great again? Planning Brussels’ response to the “Trio Plus Strategy 2030” resolution
Tiffany G. Williams
PLATO Policy Brief no. 5, June 2021