EC Presents Its Vision Of Eastern Partnership
The European Commission has submitted proposals on how to increase trade volumes and deepen the economic integration of six post-Soviet countries with the European Union. The European Commission adopted its Eastern Partnership priorities on Wednesday, March 18, at a video-meeting in Brussels.
The proposal of the European Commission now has to be approved by EU states. The EU’s Eastern Partnership program covers Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
« We will help you build a stronger economy and ensure growth, create jobs by attracting foreign direct investment and strengthening ties in transport, energy and environmental issues, » said Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy. He also promised EU assistance in overcoming the effects of the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
First of all, the European Commission wants to help modernize the economies of six post-Soviet countries. In particular, it is about supporting small and medium-sized businesses. Over the ten years of the Eastern Partnership, the EU has provided financing to 125 thousand such enterprises, which helped create or maintain more than 250 thousand jobs. The European Commission promises to continue to provide guarantees for loans, primarily in local currency, as well as investment incentives.
In addition, Brussels pledges support for non-member countries joining the World Trade Organization. There are two of them – Belarus and Azerbaijan – among the participants of the Eastern Partnership.
The European Commission wants to offer a separate initiative for young people. The goal is to help young people find work, as well as start a business.
Brussels also paid much attention to digitalization, in particular, to assistance in the development of high-speed Internet, as well as agreements to reduce or abolish roaming fees both between the Eastern Partnership countries and the EU.
Another priority is the transition to climate neutrality. The European Commission wants to increase support to the countries of the Eastern Partnership to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. It will also help develop renewable energy, primarily to reduce coal consumption.
The European Commission emphasized that each country is free to choose which energy sources it uses, but noted that further contacts with partner countries will depend on nuclear safety. First of all, this concerns Belarus, where a nuclear power plant is being built in Ostrovets, the upcoming launch of which causes considerable discontent in neighboring Lithuania.