Eastern Partnership Index 2017
The Index 2015-2016 and the current Index 2017 are the continuation of what was formerly known as the European Integration Index for Eastern Partnership Countries, building on the strong focus on the European integration process, and updating the index to reflect the current medium- and long-term challenges of sustainable development, human rights and democracy, and security and international co-operation in a tense political region. Data in the 2017 Index covers the period of January 2017 – March 2018, combining independent analysis with annual quantitative data to provide a snapshot of progress in the attainment and ongoing implementation of internationally recognised democratic standards and practice.
Approximation captures the extent to which EaP countries have implemented key EU norms and international standards.
This dimension is divided into three sections:
- Deep and Sustainable Democracy measures the adoption and implementation of human rights and democratic principles defined by the European Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), including the preceding Helsinki process.
- EU Integration and Convergence measures whether the EaP countries have converged with EU norms on trade, security, migration, energy, environment and transport infrastructures.
- Sustainable Development measures the sustainable development policies of the EaP countries and the extent to which they have achieved the sustainable development goals defined by the United Nations.
Linkage encompasses the international linkages between business, civil society, citizens and governments in EaP countries and EU countries.
This dimension consists of three sections:
- International Security, Political Dialogue and Co-operation measures how EaP and EU governments coalesce in crucial areas of international security, defence, border management and development.
- Sectoral Co-operation and Trade Flows measures the extent to which trade and investment integrate the EaP countries with the EU. The integration of energy supplies/markets and the density of transport links are assessed separately, since these two sectors constitute crucial infrastructures for economic integration.
- Citizens in Europe measures the extent of mobility, migration and communication flows of citizens between EaP countries and the EU.
In the Approximation dimension of the Index 2017, the long-term engagement with the EU in bringing laws and standards in line with international standards is evident as, despite some slippage, Armenia ranks second behind Ukraine, but slightly higher than two Association Agreement signatories, Moldova and Georgia.
In the Linkage section of the Index 2017, on the other hand, Armenia continues to be placed only a little better than Azerbaijan and Belarus. The orientation of trade flows towards Russia since joining the Eurasian Economic Union, combined with the lower level of political and security dialogue with the EU, leave Armenia lagging a long way behind the three AA countries.
Country Analysis 2017
Azerbaijan trails behind the three AA signatory countries and Armenia in the Approximation dimension of the Index 2017, and is the worst placed EaP country in democratic rights and elections. Azerbaijan also trails as the weakest performer with regards to the independence of the judiciary, media independence, and freedom of speech and assembly.
In contrast, it leads in sustainable development policy, notably due to the oil economy’s relatively better health and poverty indicators. In the Linkage dimension of the Index 2017, Azerbaijan is also ranked fifth of the six countries, and is the lowest scoring country in terms of international security, political dialogue and co-operation. Azerbaijan registered an increase in cultural exchange and co-operation, but a slippage in co-operation in science and education.
In the Approximation dimension of the Index 2017, Belarus lags behind all the other EaP countries, although the gap has begun to close in the light of initial steps taken to improve environment and climate policy, alongside the continued positive assessment of the business climate. Belarus continues to score poorly due to the country’s persistently poor record on democracy and human rights.
In the Linkage dimension of the Index 2017, Belarus is also the lowest placed EaP country. As a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), both Russia-led blocs, Belarus has the lowest share of trade with the EU of the six EaP countries, alongside a lower level of political and security dialogue with the EU.
Georgia ranks fourth among the six EaP countries in the Approximation dimension of the Index 2017, narrowly trailing behind Armenia and Moldova, and significantly behind the frontrunner, Ukraine. Slippages included a fall in the independence of the media and poor results on sustainable development policy – notably weak performance on poverty alleviation and healthcare indicators. On the other hand, strong progress was made in EU integration with the advent of visa-free travel to the Schengen countries, and also in DCFTA alignment with the EU.
In the Linkage dimension of the Index 2017, Georgia, together with Moldova, led over Ukraine, with the other EaP countries far behind. Georgia performed strongly in international security co-operation and benefited from increased trade with the EU. Georgia also led in Citizens in Europe, with improved scores following the introduction of visa-free travel, including a rise in student and academic mobility.
Moldova, narrowly ahead of Georgia, trails behind Ukraine and Armenia in the Approximation dimension of the Index 2017, reflecting slippages in human rights, media freedoms, the independence of the judiciary, and sustainable development policies, even as there were identifiable improvements in the control of corruption, DCFTA alignment, and convergence with EU energy policy. However, the moderate progress was mainly due to the improvement of the legal and normative framework and less related to effective implementation.
In the Linkage dimension of the Index 2017, Moldova remained in the leading position but, unlike in the previous Index, it now shares frontrunner status with Georgia. In political dialogue with the EU, Moldova lags behind Ukraine, but has moved ahead of Georgia. Growing trade with the EU, and higher foreign direct investment, has seen Moldova improve its position to the frontrunner in sectoral cooperation and trade flows.
Ukraine leads among the six EaP countries in the Approximation dimension of the Index 2017, reflecting the progress made in alignment of laws and standards since signing the Association Agreement. International concerns persist, however, when it comes to Ukraine’s commitment to tackle corruption.
In the Linkage dimension of the Index 2017, Ukraine continues to lag behind Moldova and Georgia, although Ukraine remains far ahead of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. Ukraine remains the leading EaP country in terms of the depth of political dialogue with the EU, and – along with Moldova – has strong trade relations with the EU, but trails Moldova and Georgia on cultural exchange and co-operation with the EU, and also on co-operation in science and education.
Sectoral Analysis 2017
Deep and Sustainable Democracy (Approximation)
The elections held in Armenia on 2 April 2017 were the only parliamentary elections held in the EaP countries in 2017. Local elections took place in Georgia on 21 October 2017. Moldova, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Belarus did not have elections in the reporting period. In terms of the organisation of elections, electoral competitiveness and the legal framework governing elections, no major changes were observed in any of the EaP countries, although Ukraine registered a significant improvement in the legislative framework on the financial reporting of political parties.
While Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine remain the best performers in terms of ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections, the parliamentary elections in Armenia registered some improvement, according to the final report of the electoral mission of OSCE/ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). However, credible information about vote-buying and pressure on civil servants tainted the election environment and contributed to an overall lack of public confidence in the elections.
Sustainable Development (Approximation)
All six countries have continued to adopt new, or update existing, sustainable development strategies or develop Green economy programmes. Institutional mechanisms have been launched for the implementation of sustainable development goals and objectives, for instance the Trade and Sustainable Development Council in Ukraine or the Sustainable Development Goals Council in Belarus.
EU Integration and Convergence (Approximation)
To assess the EaP countries’ convergence towards a market economy with a level playing field and protection of property rights, the Index draws on a range of international indicators, including the World Bank Doing Business rankings, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Transition Reports, and the Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum.
In 2017, the conditions for doing business showed a mixed picture across the EaP countries. Georgia remained the frontrunner in terms of the business climate, while Ukraine and Moldova – the other two countries that have signed an Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) agreement with the EU – trailed behind all the other EaP countries.
Sectoral Co-operation and Trade Flows (Linkage)
The EU has remained the key partner of the EaP countries in trade in goods in 2015-2017. The EU was the largest partner for four out of six countries, namely for Azerbaijan, for which the EU is a large energy consumer, and for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, which are all implementing Association Agreements, incorporating Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTAs), with the EU. For Belarus and Armenia, members of the Russia-led trade bloc, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the EU is the second largest trading partner after Russia.
The role of the EU as a source of foreign direct investment (FDI) to the countries of the region varies quite significantly. It is the dominant investor for Ukraine and Moldova, accounting for 60-70% of the FDI inward stock, and the largest investor into Georgia and Azerbaijan with a share of 40-50%. For Belarus, the EU – albeit the second largest investor after Russia – accounts for about one-third of FDI, while EU direct investment into Armenia accounts for less than 10% of the total.
International Security, Political Dialogue and Co-operation (Linkage)
Following the previous two years when the most intense co-operation between the EU and individual EaP countries focused on the three countries that had signed Association Agreements (AAs) with the EU – Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – the year 2017 saw the culmination of negotiations between Armenia and the EU on the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which was completed in September 2017.
In International Security, Political Dialogue and Co-operation in the Index 2017, Armenia nevertheless remained closer to the lowest placed Belarus and Azerbaijan than to the three AA countries, led by Georgia, then Moldova and Ukraine, which slipped to third place from the leading position in the Index 2015-2016.
Citizens in Europe (Linkage)
The level of connectivity and people-to-people contacts between the EU and each of its eastern neighbours increased in 2017. The increase in the Index 2017 over the previous Index scores mainly reflects intensified cultural exchange and mobility. The increase is particularly stark for Georgia and Ukraine, both of whom reaped the benefits of the introduction of visa-free travel to the Schengen zone countries. Visa-free travel came into force for Georgians on 28 March 2017 and for Ukrainians on 11 June 2017. Moldovans have enjoyed visa-free travel to the EU since 28 April 2014. Overall, the people-to-people indicators in the Index continued to reflect the countries’ different levels of ambition in their relations with the EU, with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine leading in most indicators, but with Armenia remaining on an equal footing in the case of cultural exchange and co-operation, co-operation in science and education, and academic and student mobility.
Approximation and Linkage Measure: Two Key Dimensions of European Integration
The Index 2015-2016 and the current Index 2017 are the continuation of what was formerly known as the European Integration Index for Eastern Partnership Countries, building on the strong focus on the European integration process, and updating the index to reflect the current medium- and long-term challenges of sustainable development, human rights and democracy, and security and international co-operation in a tense political region. The earlier Index had three dimensions Approximation, Linkage, and Management (of the EU integration process). To strengthen the focus of the Index and to emphasize that the Index is of direct relevance also to the countries whose governments have not expressed clear-cut aspirations towards closer European integration, Management was folded into the other dimensions.
Data in the 2017 Index covers the period of January 2017 – March 2018, combining independent analysis with annual quantitative data to provide a snapshot of progress in the attainment and ongoing implementation of internationally recognised democratic standards and practice.
Two dimensions of European integration are distinguished in the construction of the Index: Approximation and Linkage.
The first dimension, Approximation, captures the extent to which EaP countries have implemented key EU norms and international standards. This dimension is divided into three sections. The first section comprises the adoption and implementation of human rights and democratic principles that are, amongst others, defined in the European Convention on Human Rights, by the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), including the preceding Helsinki process.
The remaining two sections examine:
- whether states have converged with EU norms on trade, security, migration, energy, environment and transport infrastructures; and
- whether states have achieved the sustainable development goals defined by the United Nations.
The second dimension, Linkage, encompasses the transnational linkages between business, civil society, citizens and governments in EaP countries and EU countries. This dimension consists of three sections.
The section on international security and co-operation examines how EaP and EU governments coalesce in crucial areas of international security, defence, border management and development. Intergovernmental contacts are conceptualised as a part of an emerging “European society”, not as a (facilitating or constraining) framework for societal linkages. This section also considers the extent to which the EaP states control their own security as sovereign actors.
The section on economy and trade measures the extent to which trade and investment integrate the EaP countries with the EU. In addition, the integration of energy supplies/markets and the density of transport links are assessed separately, since these two sectors constitute crucial infrastructures for economic integration.
The section on Citizens in Europe measures the extent of mobility, migration and communication flows of citizens between EaP countries and the EU. Societal linkages are not only conceived as a set of bilateral EU-EaP relations following a hub-and-spokes or centre-periphery model. Rather, intra-EaP linkages are also taken into account. The Index focuses on migration as a process leading to deeper European integration and, ultimately, the full freedom of movement. Migration is not understood here as a threat to the EU’s internal security or as an EU policy to prevent illegal migration with the help of EaP states.
This structure does not attempt to mirror the items on the EU’s Eastern Partnership agenda because, firstly, this agenda will be increasingly differentiated and tailored to match the varying aspirations and priorities of the individual EaP states. Thus, comparison of the EaP countries’ compliance with diverging official agendas will become increasingly difficult, if not impossible.
Secondly, since the Index is developed in the context of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, the Index aims to represent the views of civil society rather than only the positions and priorities of the European Commission and national governments. Rather than tracing the implementation of governmental and Commission-level policy agendas down to every technical detail, the Index focuses on outcomes that matter most for people and society.
Adopting the perspective of civil society has manifest advantages. It is a step towards more “ownership” on the part of civic associations and society within the Eastern Partnership, contributing to “societal resilience”. In addition, this inclusive comparative perspective provides space and a voice for the citizens of EaP countries whose governments are not currently interested in further European integration.
Reflecting the underlying perspective of civil society, the Index places particular emphasis on people-to-people contacts and transnational linkages among civil society organisations. In contrast, the governmental agenda of sectoral regulatory alignment is less extensively covered.
Taken together, the Index has four important characteristics
- It sets out a detailed standard for the assessment of “deep and sustainable democracy”.
- It provides a cross-country and cross-sector picture that is both nuanced and comparative. The six countries are assessed across a common set of questions and indicators.
- It goes further than the EU integration process, looking at reforms for their intrinsic merits in strengthening democracy, good governance, security and sovereignty, and sustainable development in the respective countries.
- Finally, the Index offers independent analysis provided by experts in the partner countries.
The full breakdown, and the questionnaire and sources underpinning the Eastern Partnership Index 2017, are available here.
The Index was developed by a group of more than 50 civil society experts from EaP and EU countries. Many more contributed comments at various stages. The Eastern Partnership Index was initiated and launched in 2011 by the International Renaissance Foundation and Open Society Foundations. Since then, four editions of EaP Index have been published. The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum took over as leader of the project in 2014 and has subsequently produced the Index.
The project is funded by Open Society Foundations, the International Renaissance Foundation, Ukraine (IRF), the European Union, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. In the past, the project has benefited from the support of the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA) and, apart from IRF, from that of individual foundations of Open Society Foundations in Eastern Partnership countries.
 The Index does not cover the situation in the separatist-held territories of eastern Ukraine, Russia-occupied Crimea, Nagorno-Karabakh, or the breakaway regions of Transnistria, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia.
Eastern Partnership Index is produced with the financial support of the European Union. It’s content is the sole responsibility of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.