Remarks by President Charles Michel after Eastern Partnership leaders’ video conference

Photo: European Union
Photo: European Union

On 18 June, 33 heads of state or government from the EU Member States and the six Eastern partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine) participated in the Eastern Partnership leaders’ video conference.

The conference was chaired by President of the European Council Charles Michel. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU High Representative Josef Borrell also took part in the event.

The participants discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of the crisis. The strategic partnership and the future of the Eastern Partnership were also on the agenda.

“Over the last decade, our cooperation has flourished. Trade between the EU and its six partners has doubled,” said Michel. He further added, “Together, the Eastern Partnership countries are now the EU’s 10th largest trading partner. The EU is the number one trading partner for four Eastern Partnership countries and the second trading partner for the other two.”

Mr Michel also underlined that the EU’s association agreements with Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova allow the countries to accelerate their political association and economic integration with the EU.

“Millions of these countries’ citizens have benefitted from short-term visa-free travel to the EU,” he said. “The Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with Armenia is being provisionally applied. Negotiations on a new comprehensive agreement with Azerbaijan are at an advanced stage. And we just concluded visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Belarus, which will enter into force on 1 July.”

The leaders discussed the EU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has consisted of over €2.4 billion in grants, loans and macro-financial assistance to support the immediate health needs and long-term socio-economic recovery of countries in the region.

Finally, the participants identified five priorities for the Eastern Partnership, which will be included in a joint declaration. The declaration is expected to be adopted during the face-to-face summit, scheduled to take place in Brussels in March 2021.

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Remarks by Charles Michel