The 5th Eastern Partnership summit: What to expect?

In the run-up to the 5th Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit that took place in Brussels this November, CEPS organised a discussion on its possible outcomes. It was stressed that the Summit would not produce a breakthrough in relations between the EU and its Eastern neighbours but would rather focus on the successful implementation by 2020 of 20 strategic priorities (supporting SMEs, the energy efficiency, integration of the partner countries into the EU digital market and transport networks). With respect to the issue of membership perspective, it was pointed out that there exists neither a positive nor negative consensus on the future of the EU enlargement to the East. Instead, the aspiring partners should focus on the effective implementation of the Association Agreements. Thomas Mayr-Harting, Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia at the EEAS, stressed that the EaP policy was not designed with the intention of harming Russia's interests. At the same time, the EaP summit should not be considered as a tool for conflict resolution in the region. According to Susan Stewart (SWP), however, the EU should take into account security concerns of partners due to Russia’s aggressive policies. She emphasised the need for short-term successes produced in the framework of the EaP, with tangible results of the EU policies felt by the citizens of partner states. She called for a serious discussion within the EU about the future of the EaP.