Brussels, 24 November 2020

Platform 1 – Priorities beyond 2020

EaP CSF representatives Sofia Strive (WG1 Coordinator and EaP CSF Steering Committee Co-Chair, Forum Civ), Mikayel Hovhannisyan (WG1 Coordinator, Eurasia Partnership Foundation), Iulian Groza (IPRE), and Pavel Havlicek (AMO) delivered the Forum’s input on the new post-2020 deliverables and civil society’s priorities for judicial reforms, anti-corruption, civil protection, public administration reform, and the protection of human rights, including gender equality.

Although more improvements in the areas of good governance and security are needed in the Eastern Partnership countries, in the last ten years, important achievements have been made and it is important to continue building on that foundation, mentioned Luc Devigne (Acting Managing Director, Russia, Eastern Partnership, Regional cooperation and OSCE, EEAS). The outreach to, and collaboration with, stakeholders like civil society and youth is central to strengthening the region. Also, it is indispensable to foster a strong role of independent media in order to tackle these essential issues, argued Lawrence Meredith (Director, Eastern Neighbourhood and Institution Building, DG NEAR).

The rule of law has a fundamental role to support the economic development of the Eastern Partnership countries. The European Rule of Law Mechanism allows to enlarge possible preventive measures and to gather comparable data. Moreover, in the midst of the post-COVID-19 recovery, the accountability of the judiciary is crucial. For this reason, the new EaP deliverables should be ambitious and develop the institutions’ resilience. This will allow to effectively tackle corruption and COVID-19 –related challenges.

EaP CSF representative Pavel Havlicek (AMO) stressed that resilience is the right concept to continue building a more transparent and accountable future. He called for the EU to step up its presence in the Eastern Partnership region, by building capacities to combat organised crime, notably increasing its cooperation with Europol. In addition, increased collaboration is needed to counter hybrid threats. However, to ensure a successful approach, the EU should adapt its course of action to each Eastern Partnership country individually.

Civil society representative Sofia Strive (Forum Civ) urged the EU to set concrete targets for gender under each of the individual deliverables in order not to blur the targets for gender equality. She also drew attention to the spike in domestic violence cases during the pandemic and the lockdown. Efforts to counter domestic violence and steps in order to ratify the Istanbul Convention are urgently needed.

In conclusion, with civil society facing serious threats in some parts of the EaP region, it is necessary to ensure its protection by having EaP governments make a clear commitment to this target.