Thursday

6th Oct 2022

'Eastern Partnership' could lead to enlargement, Poland says

  • The new partnership would take more concrete shape next year (Photo: European Commission)

Poland and Sweden have officially tabled proposals for an "Eastern Partnership" between the EU and its neighbours Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine - with Poland presenting the deal as a path toward EU membership.

"It's time to look to the east to see what we can do to strengthen democracy," Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said on Monday (26 May), after presenting the project to the rest of the EU club with his Polish counterpart, Radoslaw Sikorski.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

According to Mr Sikorski, the eastern partnership initiative is tailored to "practically" and "ideologically" strengthen the union's existing neighbourhood policy towards countries that could eventually become EU members, but are held back by "enlargement fatigue" within the bloc.

The minister drew a clear line to distinguish the EU membership prospects of those countries affected by the Polish-Swedish proposal and those involved in the "Mediterranean Union" - a similar, French-sponsored project for countries lying south of the EU.

"To the south, we have neighbours of Europe. To the east, we have European neighbours...they all have the right one day to apply [for EU membership]," Mr Sikorski said, urging the eastern countries to follow the example of the Visagrad Group set up in 1991 by Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as part of their EU integration efforts.

"We all know the EU has enlargement fatigue. We have to use this time to prepare as much as possible so that when the fatigue passes, membership becomes something natural," the Polish minister said.

The initiative has seen some criticism from countries such as Bulgaria who does not want to see the union's "Black Sea Synergy" - a co-operation scheme for Black Sea rim states - undermined. But the Czech Republic, which will sit at the EU's helm in 2009, has thrown its weight behind the Polish-Swedish plan.

"It goes in the same direction that we want. And we see that the next year, we need to balance. This year, it is a Mediterranean year. So, the next year would be the eastern year," the country's deputy prime minister, Alexandr Vondra, told journalists.

EU-hopeful Ukraine has, for its part, made it clear it is not willing to settle for anything less than EU membership.

"We believe that the initiative of the Eastern partnership should envisage a clear EU membership perspective to those European neighbours of the EU who can demonstrate the seriousness of their European ambitions through concrete actions and tangible achievements," said a statement issued by Ukraine's foreign ministry on Monday.

Analysis

Four weeks to COP27 — key issues and challenges

World leaders will meet in exactly four weeks to discuss some of the most pressing issues of climate change — amid escalating geopolitical tensions, and widespread mistrust in the developing world as green finance promises remain unfulfilled.

Last-minute legal changes to Bosnian election law stir controversy

"[…] We were astonished that on election day, the high representative for Bosnia imposed significant further changes to the constitution," Austrian MEP Andreas Schieder, head of the European Parliament election observation delegation to Bosnia said on Monday.

Column

The Iranian regime's expiration date

This 'headscarf revolution' is about women's rights and human rights in general, plus police brutality. Moreover, it is a leaderless revolution that is not driven by a leader or a group, but erupted spontaneously.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden: Nord Stream probe points to 'gross sabotage'
  2. Orbán rails against Russia sanctions at Prague summit
  3. MEPs urge inquiry into Mahsa Amini killing and Iran sanctions
  4. Thousands of Hungarian students and teachers protest
  5. Swedish MEP cuts hair mid-speech to support Iran women
  6. Danish general election called for 1 November
  7. Slovenia legalises gay marriage, adoption
  8. Russia's stand-in EU ambassador reprimanded on Ukraine

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  2. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  4. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  5. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”

Latest News

  1. What actually happened at the 'most complicated election in the world'?
  2. Europe lays aside quarrels to isolate Putin
  3. Spyware-hacked MEPs still seeking answers
  4. EU leaders discuss gas price cap — amid rationing fear
  5. Germany braces for criticism of national €200bn energy fund
  6. The fossil-fuel agenda behind EU's carbon-capture plans
  7. Four weeks to COP27 — key issues and challenges
  8. EU wants to see US list on Russia financing of politicians

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us