The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is an initiative that frames the European Union’s relationship with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Cooperation between the EU and each EaP country takes many forms, and it includes a broad range of economic and social development projects and programmes, the so-called association process (separate formal agreements between the EU and each EaP country), and negotiations over visa liberalisation and the establishment of free-trade areas.
Each EaP country is at a different stage of its cooperation, or ‘association’, with the EU. In 2014 for example, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine all signed Association Agreements with the EU. In the same year, Moldova became the first EaP country to be granted visa liberalisation, meaning that Moldovan citizens can now travel to Schengen countries (for stays of up to 90 days) without needing to apply for a visa in advance.
The Integrated Border Management ‘Flagship Initiative’ is a priority area of the EU’s Eastern Partnership activities; and the EaP-IBM Capacity Building Project is one of the key projects under the IBM Flagship Initiative.
Each of the six EaP countries is at a different stage of IBM implementation – a process that requires the development of a national IBM strategy and action plan. Because of the obvious link between good border-management practices and the movement of people, the EU has made progress in the field of IBM a condition and pre-requisite of visa liberalisation.
Successive EU enlargements have brought the EaP countries geographically closer to the EU. Therefore the security, stability and prosperity of both the EU and EaP countries have become increasingly intertwined. The Eastern Partnership was inaugurated by the European Union in Prague on 7 May 2009 through a joint declaration, which put forward concrete ideas for enhancing the EU’s relationship with the EaP region. Central to all initiatives under the Eastern Partnership is the idea of ‘approximation’ with EU standards and practices.
The EU draft of the Eastern Partnership states that: “Shared values including democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights will be at its core, as well as the principles of market economy, sustainable development and good governance.”