Armenia, Moldova, and Georgia stepped back, while Ukraine made little improvements, according to the Eastern Partnership Index 2017 published by Civil Society Forum in December. The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a policy initiative that aims to bring the six Eastern neighbours – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – closer to the EU.
The research traced back progress made by the six EaP countries over 2017 in two categories: the extent the countries established sustainable democratic institutions and the level of integration with the EU, including trade and mobility.
Since the report, some former Soviet states have seen progress, but also further setback and uncertainty. And with upcoming elections to the EU parliament in 2019 and debate over Brexit deal, the European neighborhood policy might be changed as well as the status of its eastern partners.
“The problem is that EU is very inward looking at the moment… I suspect the EU will be certainly not interested in a membership perspective sometime, so it’s more for the Eastern Partnership countries themselves to show that they have the momentum to get closer, whether it’s a trade, energy policy, ensuring visa-free status,” said Jeff Lovitt, the author of the report and the founder and chair of New Diplomacy non-profit.
The report features how little the EaP countries approached EU norms and standards over one year, even for the leaders of the run since 2014 – the Associated Agreement members Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. Ukraine, EU eastern neighbor of 44 million citizens, advanced by 0.01 point to 0.73 out of 1, compared to the first ever index in 2015-2016. Though, the country made more positive steps in bilateral trade and mobility.
Sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova has declined drastically by 0.07 points and landed on the third place with 0.65 points after Armenia. Another Caucasus region partner, Georgia, followed with a decrease down to 0.64 points. For Azerbaijan the index remained unchanged, while it improved for Belarus by 0.08 points but still made the country to run the last one.