“Advancing Eastern Partnership: 23 Civil Society Ideas for the Policy beyond 2020” came out of six focus groups, coordinated by Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) – bringing together experts and members from both EaP and EU countries. The aim of the paper is to provide an objective assessment of 10 years of EaP policy, as well as a set of recommendations that should guide policy dialogue for the years to come. The 23 points relate to civil society engagement, tools and financial support – and areas where EU support should be strengthened, such as human rights or enabling civil society environment.
“The EU’s greater emphasis on stability has tended to undermine its normative soft power in the EaP region and the ability to work for reforms”, warns the paper. The EaP agenda should focus on democratic reforms and pay attention to rule of law. In order to achieve this, civil society should be elevated to the “rank of third and equal partner for reform”. At the same time, the new policy agenda should be ambitious and ensure that partners take more responsible over its implementation.
The current policy successes, such as growing regional integration or people-to-people contacts, can be sustained only through tailored support. The EU should “continue supporting the region with a dedicated financial instrument and corresponding Directorate-General”, preferably by re-establishing the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) on the basis of existing legislation. The launch of “Advancing Eastern Partnership: 23 Civil Society Ideas for the Policy beyond 2020” coincides with 10 years of EaP policy and high-level celebrations, scheduled for May 2019.