10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership – a good opportunity to know what it means for Armenia

26-04-2019
10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership – a good opportunity to know what it means for Armenia
1. What is the Eastern Partnership about? Does it mean EU membership?

The Eastern Partnership brings together the EU, its member states, and its six Eastern neighbours – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership

For the last ten years, the partners have been working together to build a common area of democracy, prosperity and stability. In everyday life, this means a stronger economy, stronger institutions and greater trust, a cleaner environment, safe and sustainable energy supply, opportunities for people across society and especially the young: ultimately, it means a better quality of life for all.

The Eastern Partnership does not mean EU membership, but it does provide the framework for countries to build a closer relationship with the European Union, if they choose to do so.

2. What is the EU's interest in the partnership? Why should the EU spend taxpayers’ money to help other countries?

The European Union’s interest is very clear: stable, secure and prosperous neighbours are vital for the EU's own stability, security and prosperity – “We must export stability… to avoid importing instability,” in the words of the EU's Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy, Johannes Hahn.

At the same time, the Eastern Partnership opens new markets and consumers for businesses on both sides, especially through the provisions of the new EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which commits to create “a new climate for economic relations… and, above all, for the development of trade and investment”. The partnership also opens new markets for tourism, and the opportunity for young people – from both sides – to exchange, travel and broaden their experience.

So a stronger Armenia also means a stronger European Union.

3. OK, so the EU invests money, but is there proper control of where the money goes and how it is spent?

EU funds always face rigorous monitoring and reporting procedures – both internal and external – in order to assess the value and impact of actions, and with strict financial auditing to make sure the money spent is properly accounted for. Even when dealing with state budget support, money is only released when agreed targets have been met – and the EU can and does hold back payment until it can see credible action to put objectives back on track.

Fighting corruption is a top priority in European cooperation with its Eastern partners, including Armenia, with many actions supporting the rule of law, transparency, and effective public administration. And ensuring that European funds are properly spent not only contributes to a stronger economy and society in each partner country, it ensures that citizens – both Armenian and from EU member states – can truly enjoy the benefits of closer partnership.

4. So what are the concrete benefits for Armenia?

Armenia is a priority partner for the European Union, a partnership underlined by the new Partnership Agreement signed in 2017, and provisionally applied since 1 June 2018.

The European Union is Armenia’s biggest export market. Since 2009, more than €473 million in EU support has been channelled to Armenian companies, 25,000 enterprises have been supported, and 2,500 new jobs have been created.

Thanks to EU support, the quality of drinking water for 1.1 million people in Yerevan has improved, while modernisation of the Yerevan Metro means more comfortable journeys, safer operations, and substantial energy savings.

Travelling and foreign exchanges have become easier: since 2014, an agreement on visa facilitation has made visa applications for Armenians easier, quicker, and cheaper, while over 1,800 students and academic staff from Armenia studied or taught in Europe as part of the Erasmus+ programme in the period 2015-17.

The EU also supports innovation and research, vocational training, energy efficiency, e-government and justice reform, to name but a few – all areas with concrete impacts on citizens.

5. And for me?

It could be you: people from all walks of life have seen a direct impact from EU support – people like Satenik Khachatryan, whose application sent from a village post office led her to study in four European countries with Erasmus+, and who has now brought her experience in child protection and education back to her hometown of Chambarak. Or entrepreneur Aram Tovmasyan from the village of Lernagog in Armavir region, who received EU training and financial support, allowing him to start a business producing salted apricot kernels.

Farmer Arthur Gasparyan is now spending four times less to heat his greenhouse thanks to a biomass boiler installed with the help of an EU-funded project – “We don’t harm the environment, and we get the same energy. The same result, but cheaper,” he says.

In Yerevan, Judge Liza Grigoryan was one of several justice and law enforcement personnel involved in an EU programme on combating violence against women, a process that could save lives by preventing cases of domestic violence.

6. OK, I am interested - how can I track all these opportunities? How can I find something that might be useful to me?

The EU NEIGHBOURS website tracks and publishes all the latest EU opportunities. Whether it's a start-up academy for young entrepreneurs, a study visit for youth workers to Finland, a traineeship at the European Parliament, or funding for energy efficiency initiatives, you’ll find all the opportunities in the dedicated section of the EU Neighbours website.

If you are a small business or an entrepreneur, you will also find a wide range of training and funding opportunities on the EU4Business website, while young people interested in exchange and study opportunities should check out the national Erasmus+ office in Armenia.

You should also visit the website of the EU Delegation in Armenia, which has dedicated sections for jobs & funding, travel & study and its social media page.

7. 10 years have passed: what’s next?

2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership. Over the past decade, the efforts of the EU and its partner countries have brought more trade, mobility, economic development and better quality of life.

But the partnership does not stop there: the EU and its Eastern partners have set 20 key targets to be achieved by next year – known as the ‘20 Deliverables for 2020’ – and efforts are ongoing to meet those targets across good government, economic development, energy, environment and transport, and stronger society, as well as on gender equality, the media and civil society.