Eastern Partnership Linkage 2018-19

The Linkage results of the EaP Index show where the Eastern Partnership countries stand in terms of linkage between business, civil society, citizens and governments in the EaP and EU countries. The Data for 2018-19 shows increased linkages between all EaP countries and the EU, as well as a continued, sustained divide between the three AA signatories and the other three Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus. View the full text and an interactive radar chart below.


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.

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Sectoral Co-operation and Trade Flows

In 2018, there were no breakthrough changes in the geography of goods trade in the EaP region. The EU has remained the key trade partner of EaP countries in trade in goods, being the number one trade partner for Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia and the number two – after Russia – for Belarus and Armenia. Russia, Turkey, and China have been the other most important trade partners, although each EaP country featured its unique geographical mix of trade linkages.

For the EU, the relative importance of the goods trade with EaP countries has remained low. The aggregate share of the ‘6’ was 1.7% in 2016-2018, with Ukraine accounting for more than half this share. The trade regime between the EU and three countries that signed the Association Agreements (AA), embedding deep and comprehensive free trade areas (DCFTAs), has been defined by the implementation of the AA/DCFTA commitments. While in the case of Georgia-EU trade the partners removed import duties immediately after the launch of the DCFTA in 2014, Ukraine and Moldova envisaged gradual tariff liberalisation that continued in 2018. Three AA/DCFTA countries also progressed in harmonising their safety regulations with EU norms, thereby aiming to lower non-tariff barriers to trade.


Sectoral Analysis 2018

International Security, Political Dialogue and Co-operation

EaP Index scores for 2018 in the International Security, Political Dialogue and Cooperation domain show minor variations for EaP countries, with the ranking remaining unchanged except for Moldova, which slips back one place in third position, with a significant decrease in its score. Despite Moldova’s backsliding, the results continue to show that the most intense co-operation between the EU and individual EaP countries can be recorded with the three countries that have signed Association Agreements (AAs) with the EU – Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Armenia remains closer to the lowest placed, Belarus and Azerbaijan, than to the three AA countries, but in 2018 it registered a strong increase in cooperation as recorded by the Political Dialogue with the EU indicator, where Armenia recorded a 0.20 increase. It should be noted that 2017 saw the finalisation of the negotiations between Armenia and the EU on the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which was completed in September 2017, and 2018 was the first full year of EU-Armenia cooperation covered by CEPA.

Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia continued with the implementation of their AAs with the EU, and Georgia and Ukraine enjoyed their first full year of enjoying visa-free travel to Schengen countries (from March and June 2017 respectively). Azerbaijan’s relations with the EU remain governed by the 1999 Partnership and Co-operation Agreement as the main framework agreement between Baku and Brussels, while Belarus continues to lack any framework agreement with the EU.


Citizens of Europe

The level of connectivity and people-to-people contacts between the EU and all its eastern neighbours increased in 2018, with the three AA countries leading in terms of exchanges and people to people contacts, closely followed by Armenia. The increase in the Index Citizens in Europe 2018 score over the previous Index scores mainly reflects intensified cultural exchange and mobility. 2018 was the first full year in which Ukrainians and Georgians enjoyed 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. The increase in score is particularly stark for Moldova and Armenia, in both cases due to significantly intensified cultural exchange and cooperation.

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.


Project Partners

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. 

Contact us

Tania Marocchi

Policy and Advocacy Manager
Email: tania.marocchi@eap-csf.eu
Tel: +32 2 893 25 86