The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a European Union initiative directed at six countries of Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The EaP was launched by 27 EU member states and the six partner countries at a summit in Prague on 7 May 2009. The initiative aims at tightening the relationship between the EU and the Eastern partners by deepening their political co-operation and economic integration. The EaP neither promises nor precludes the prospect of EU membership to the partner states. It offers deeper integration with the EU structures by encouraging and supporting them in their political, institutional and economic reforms based on EU standards, as well as facilitating trade and increasing mobility between the EU and the partner states.
The EaP works in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which covers the EU’s neighbours in the East and South. However, the EaP goes beyond the original ENP package as it deepens bilateral co-operation, and introduces new mechanisms for regional co-operation. The bilateral track is mostly concerned with concluding bilateral association agreements, developing sectoral co-operation in a wide range of areas, facilitating visa regimes, and lifting them in the longer term. It also introduces Comprehensive Institution Building Programmes, which are intended to enhance the capabilities of the partner states' public institutions. The new multilateral dimension is based on a novel mechanism aimed at fostering co-operation between the EU and all the partner states, and between the partner states themselves. In addition, the EaP sets up a network of civil society organisations in the EU and the partner countries.
2004-05-12 European Commission announces European Neighbourhood Policy
2008-05-27 Poland and Sweden put forward the concept of the Eastern Partnership
2008-12-03 European Commission submits a Communication on the Eastern Partnership
2009-03-20 European Council approves the Eastern Partnership project
2009-05-07 Launch of the Eastern Partnership at a summit in Prague