Tuesday

5th Mar 2024

'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

Get the EU news that really matters

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.

EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

The European Commission will release €50m out of €82m in funds for the UN aid agency (UNRWA) operating in Gaza. The remaining €32m will come pending an audit. The commission has received no evidence to support Israeli allegations against UNRWA.

Russian oligarchs failed to get off EU blacklist

Hungary failed to get three Russian and three Chinese names deleted, as the EU approved its 13th package of sanctions ahead of an anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Opinion

The macabre saga of Navalny's corpse

With Alexei Navalny's funeral in Moscow on Friday, Vladimir Putin's regime haven't just insulted his mother and widow with their treatment of his corpse — they've breached international treaties and conventions.

Latest News

  1. EU must overhaul Africa trade offer to parry China, warns MEP
  2. EU watchdog faults European Commission over Libya
  3. Hungary's Ukrainian refugees in two minds as relations sour
  4. The six-hour U-turn that saw the EU vote for austerity
  5. Defence, von der Leyen, women's rights, in focus This WEEK
  6. The farming lobby vs Europe's wolves
  7. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  8. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us