Partners for Life: Europe’s Unanswered “Eastern Question”
- The fifth Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit holds the potential for much greater transformation of the eastern neighbourhood than most EU member states are currently prepared to try to achieve.
- Since its inception in 2008, the EaP has evolved in response to changing circumstances. But it still falls short of a transformative programme that would properly serve both the EU and reform-minded forces in partnership states, as well as bolstering their sovereignty and resilience to Russian pressure.
- The rise of populism inside Europe and a resurgent Russia outside may have quieted talk of long-term EU expansion. But any downgrading of the EaP would only reduce the security of Europe as a whole.
- Ukraine is the largest and most important EaP country. The EU can achieve more consistent progress on reform here by giving greater consideration to the different forces at work inside Ukraine. ‘Smarter’ reforms can still achieve more, without extra resources or new initiatives.
- The EU should stay the course on the EaP. It should frontload as many beneficial policies as possible, and communicate the merit of these to the peoples of the region more effectively than it has done in the past.