General information about Eastern Partnership
"Eastern Partnership" is a European Union foreign policy initiative, which applies to 28 EU Member States and six Eastern European neighbours – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Launched on May 7, 2009 at the Prague Summit on the proposal of Poland and Sweden, the initiative aims at deepening cooperation between the EU, Eastern Europe and South Caucasus. The Eastern Partnership updates the legal basis between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries by replacing previous partnership and cooperation agreements and introducing the Association Agreement, as well as establishing a deep and comprehensive free trade area and visa liberalization between the EU and partner countries.
The emergence of Eastern Partnership led to the separation of EU foreign approach to relations with its Eastern and Southern neighbours who were in the same conditions under the previous European Neighbourhood Policy. This separation is important as the Southern EU neighbours are not territorially European states. Consequently, those partners cannot be considered as the potential EU Member States.
Eastern Partnership is based on bilateral cooperation between the EU and Eastern partner countries, as well as on multilateral cooperation between parts. Introducing the multilateral dimension of political and expert dialogue is one of the main differences of the Eastern Partnership from the European Neighbourhood Policy.
The multilateral cooperation operates on four levels:
- Eastern Partnership Summit which includes Heads of State and Heads of Government of the EU Member States together with the representatives of partner countries. The Summit is held every two years.
Up to date, such Summits have been held four times:
- Constitutive Summit held on May 7, 2009 in Prague;
- The second Summit held on September 29,2011 in Warsaw;
- The third Summit –on November28, 2013 in Vilnius.
The last Summit took place on May 21-22, 2015 in Riga.
- Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the EU and of the partner countries is usually scheduled once a year in Brussels (last – 22 July 2014).
The meeting is focused on the progress achieved and the prospects for further development of Eastern Partnership relations. The members of the meeting usually revise and endorse key goals and work programs of multilateral thematic platforms of Eastern Partnership.
- Thematic Platform of Eastern Partnership.
In the context of reforms and institutional change, the thematic platforms provide an exchange of information and experiences among partner countries. Thus, the existence of such platforms which hold meetings at least twice a year facilitate direct links between the experts of partner countries and the EU Member States. The platforms are accountable to the meeting of Foreign Ministers.
Current thematic platforms:
1) Democracy, good governance and stability.
Democracy and human rights;
Justice, freedom and security;
Security and stability.
Currently, there are two flagship initiatives supported by this thematic platform: "Integrated Border Management" and "Prevention of, preparedness for, and response to natural and man-made disasters”.
2) Economic integration and convergence with EU policies.
Trade and regulatory approximation;
Environment and climate change.
The platform incorporates the flagship initiative "Tools to promote small and medium-sized enterprises."
3) Energy Security.
Support infrastructure development, interconnections and diversification of supply;
Harmonization of policies in the energy sector.
Flagship initiatives are the following: "Development of regional electricity markets, energy efficiency and renewable energy" and "Environmental management".
4) Contacts between people.
The issue of culture;
Education and Science;
Information Society and Media.
- Working groups (expert panels) to support the work of the thematic platforms in specific areas.
Furthermore, the multilateral cooperation also includes:
- The informal dialogue at the level of foreign ministers and sectoral ministers of the partner countries as well as the EU Commissioners.
- Civil Society Forum aimed at involving the general public to take part in Eastern Partnership initiatives. The purpose of the Forum is to establish networking among NGOs and facilitate their dialogue with state authorities. The Civil Society Forum operates on the same principle as the thematic platforms and receives financial support from the European Commission. Each of the partner countries formed its own Civil Society Forum. For instance, the Ukrainian National Forum brings together more than 150 non-governmental organizations.
- Euronest Parliamentary Assembly is another dimension of Eastern Partnership which provides a platform for inter-parliamentary meetings between the EU and the partner countries. Ukraine is represented by the Standing Delegation of the Verkhovna Rada which constantly participates in Euronest meetings. The last session was held during May 28-29, 2014 in Brussels.
European Neighbourhood Policy Review (Eastern Partnership)
In early March 2015, the European Commission announced joint consultations on a broad review of the European Neighbourhood Policy. In the context of review the European Commission expects to get the vision, including from partner countries, of the future of this policy.
Government Office for European Integration together with Ukrainian non-governmental experts and some executive bodies prepared working proposals for updating the content of mentioned policy.
The Strategic priority of economic reforms and implementation of the FTA - entry of Ukrainian companies into the market of the EU with the simultaneous development of investment opportunities in the domestic market of Ukraine for European business.
- Ensure adequate basic business conditions, protection of property, regulatory climate.
- Efficient use of instruments of economic regulation (stimulation) under the Agreement.
- Small and medium business development.
- The policy of attracting strategic investors considering the interests of regional development and structural transformation of the economy of Ukraine.
- Ensure the development of competition, especially in strategic sectors - energy, transport, and communications.
- Integration of the Ukrainian transport system into European and world transport systems.
- Modernization of monitoring and supervision in the financial sector. Strengthening of transparency, corporate governance and protection of the rights of creditors and investors and further integration of the domestic financial sector into the international system of rules and coordination.
Progress of Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in Ukraine in 2014 and recommendations for actions
There was little progress on implementing Ukraine’s 2020 national transport strategy. Some progress was made towards the approximation of transport legislation and the implementation of international transport conventions, with Ukraine assessing the gaps relating to existing legislation and standards and starting to draft amendments to laws, in particular on the road and maritime transport sectors.
The State Aviation Administration revoked the certificates issued to Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol airports, in view of concerns about passenger safety and its lack of control over aviation activity in the regions. The EU-Ukraine common aviation area agreement, which had been initialled in the margins of the Vilnius summit in 2013, remained unsigned due to a pending decision by the Council of the European Union. Ukraine remained ready to sign the agreement as soon as possible.
Some progress was made on rail transport reform. In June, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved plans to privatise Ukrainian Railways. This was scheduled for January 2015, pending the completion of an inventory of its assets. Safety, in particular of road transport, remained a significant problem and required far more work.
Ukraine suffered major damage to its transport infrastructure in its eastern regions, in particular to rail tracks. In September, parliament ratified the guarantee agreement with the European Investment Bank to construct the 1.8 km Beskid railway tunnel, which was a precondition for the entry into force of the financial agreement between Ukrainian Railways and the European Investment Bank.
Information about Cooperation within the Eastern Partnership Transport Panel
The Eastern Partnership Transport Panel was established in October 2011 and operates under platform 2 "Economic Integration and Convergence with EU Policies".
The EC within the framework of Transport panel informs the Eastern Partnership countries on major trends in EU transport policy and suggests possible forms of cooperation regarding various kinds of transport.
The concept of how to achieve the goal to create a transport network of "a new generation", including a list of specific actions is outlined in the strategy of the European Commission "Transport - 2050: Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system", so called "White paper - 2011".
White Paper, on the basis of which will be drafted relevant laws in the next decade, was adopted by the European Commission and contains initiatives, implementation of which will improve the competitiveness of the European transport system, create new jobs, reduce Europe's dependence on energy imports, reduce carbon emissions.
Communication from the European Commission "EU and neighbouring regions: renewed approach to transport cooperation" of 2011 defined the main directions of cooperation of the EU with neighbouring regions, namely:
- Spread of EU internal aviation market and Single European Sky to neighbouring regions;
- Liberalization of maritime transport. Long term it is planned to include neighbouring countries to the "Blue Belt" of free maritime movement in Europe and on the European borders;
- Creation of an effective system of sustainable inland waterways transportation;
- Improvement of the efficiency of land transport by simplifying administrative procedures at border crossings, elimination of traffic congestion, improvement of road safety, fulfilment of international standards of technical safety and environmental protection;
- Settlement of the issue of access to road transport market;
- Development of railway infrastructure and simplification of border crossing procedures for rail transportation, particularly in the Eurasian direction;
- Development of infrastructure transport network beyond the borders of the EU by identifying transport links and priority projects and funding sources.
To promote projects of common interest can be used existing (Neighbourhood Investment Facility - NIF, Connecting Europe Facilities (CEF)) as well as new financial instruments.
Up to now 8 meetings of the Transport panel have been held (held twice a year) and 2 meetings of Transport Ministers of the EU Member States and participating countries of "Eastern Partnership" (the last was held on 10/09/2013, Luxembourg).
Following the meeting of Transport Ministers of the Eastern Partnership countries and EU member states in 09/10/2013, Luxembourg (Grand Duchy of Luxembourg) were approved:
- Joint declaration " Future of Eastern Partnership transport cooperation ", which particularly encourages the European Commission to include the regional transport network of the Eastern Partnership to the EU regulation on the establishment of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), that is to extend the network TEN-T on the countries of EP;
- Maps of a regional transport network of the Eastern Partnership, which show connections between EP countries themselves and also between the EU Member States (by renewed Trans-European transport network of European Union). These maps together with those previously approved within the Eastern Partnership Transport Panel "Guidelines for the selection of infrastructure projects" will be the basis for attracting funding from the EU and international financial institutions to modernize transport infrastructure. To maps of connection of transport networks of Ukraine and the EU were included road and rail routes, 8 seaports, and 8 international airports;
- The list of priority infrastructure projects, implementation of which will involve financial resources of EU and international financial institutions. The list will be updated regularly depending on the progress in the implementation of projects.
In accordance with Regulation (EU) 473/2014 Regional transport network was included in Annex III of Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network is extended TEN-T network in the Eastern Partnership countries
In January 2014 were approved renewed guidelines for TEN-T, which determined that the "key" network will be developed on the basis of 9 multimodal corridors.
Two corridors are to Ukraine:
- The Rhine-Danube Corridor, with the Main and Danube waterway as its backbone, connects the central regions around Strasbourg and Frankfurt via Southern Germany to Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and finally the Black Sea, with an important branch from Munich to Prague, Zilina, Kosice and the Ukrainian border.
- The Mediterranean Corridor links the Iberian Peninsula with the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. It follows the Mediterranean coastlines of Spain and France, crosses the Alps towards the east through Northern Italy, leaving the Adriatic coast in Slovenia and Croatia towards Hungary. Apart from the Po River and some other canals in Northern Italy, it consists of road and rail. Key railway projects along this corridor are the links Lyon – Turin and the section Venice – Ljubljana.
Within the framework of the Eastern Partnership transport panel Ukraine is engaged in the following:
1) In accordance with the agreements set forth in the Joint Declaration currently within the framework of the Eastern Partnership transport panel Ukraine is taking steps to harmonize inland waterways of Ukraine to be included into regional Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) (the river Dnieper, Southern Bug and Ukrainian part of the Danube River) taking into account criteria defined in EU legislation.
Due to its unique geographical location, the system of inland waterways of Ukraine is of strategic importance for the development of Trans-European transport links, particularly for the modernization of the network of TEN-T transport corridors.
Today we are working to ensure conditions for free navigation on inland waterways of Ukraine that meet European standards. In particular, under the provisions of Directive 2005/44 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 07.09.2005 "On the Harmonised River Information Services on inland waterways of community" in Ukraine is created and exploited river information systems (RIS) on inland waterway and they work on Ukrainian part of the rivers Danube and Dnipro.
Reference: RIS on the river Dnipro includes 6 sub centres located at the gateways of Dnipro cascade (Vyshgorod, Kaniv, Svitlovodsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya and Nova Kakhovka) and 24 automatic posts of Automated identification system.
RIS at river Danube includes 3 sub centres, located at the posts of traffic control of a branch of "Delta-pilot" SE "AMPU" and two automatic posts AIS.
The integration of inland waterways of Ukraine into the European inland waterways will help partially relieve the railways and maritime ports, improve environmental safety through the implementation in river ports and terminals of collecting waste from ships, improve the system of regulation of tariffs for inland waterway transport services, reconstruct and modernize shipping locks on the river Dnipro, update navigational waterway signs etc.
2) We are working on a number of new promising projects, in particular, diversification of rail and road routes, which when included in TEN-T network will significantly reduce traffic between the west and south of Europe and further access to the Black Sea countries (Turkey, Georgia etc.).
3) We are also updating the list of priority infrastructure projects that can be proposed to the EU side.
The dialogue on the possibility of liberalization of transport is still going on.
The Luxembourg declaration
Ministers responsible for Transport of the EU Member States and Partner countries of the Eastern Partnership and representatives of the European Commission (hereinafter "the Participants") have met in Luxembourg on 9 October 2013 back to back with the formal TTE Council to discuss cooperation in transport and logistics, with special emphasis on the improvement of transport connections between the EU and its closest neighbours.