Eastern Partnership Index
The Eastern Partnership Index charts the progress made by the six Eastern Partnership countries towards sustainable democratic development and European integration. The Index measures steps taken on the path towards good governance, including the observance and protection of democracy and human rights, sustainable development, and integration with the European Union. The Index is designed to chart progress and reverses in reforms, but also to generate recommendations to guide countries along the reform process and to signal concerns when progress is flagging or even reversed. The Index is also intended to serve as an important monitoring tool for policymakers, independent researchers, think-tanks and civil society actors.
Charting Performance in the Eastern Partnership:
Democracy and Good Governance,
Policy Convergence and Sustainable Development
The Eastern Partnership Index 2021 covers the period from 2020 through to mid-2021, a timeframe that includes some of the most challenging phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings of the Index show the wide-ranging impacts the pandemic and its fallout had in the region, from the fight against corruption, freedom of assembly to independent media and equality. Consequently, insights from the Index provide critical evidence from the region at a time when governments, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the EU are working on recovery plans.
The Index comes about at an interesting phase in both the EaP and the EU’s evolution. It has been four years since the previous full Index on Approximation was published and much has occurred. An unparalleled clampdown on civil liberties and human rights took place in Belarus in the aftermath of presidential elections and renewed military confrontation erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh. Meanwhile, the bilateral Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) agreement between Armenia and the EU entered into force and after the 2020 and 2021 elections Moldova appears to be on the cusp of a new democratic and pro-European era. The Associated Trio, namely, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, are completing the first and most challenging phase in the implementation of their Deep and Comprehensive Trade Agreements (DCFTAs) with the EU. On the EU’s side, the past four years witnessed BREXIT, rising challenges to the rule of law in a number of Central European states and at the same time the reigniting of the EU enlargement dynamic in the Western Balkans. The EU also launched its Conference on the Future of Europe, which is supposed to citizen-led and geared towards improving the quality of democracy in the EU.
In the course of compiling the Index the situation in Belarus substantially worsened in the wake of the 2020 presidential elections. Repression is taking place outside of the rule of law in retaliation for people expressing their opinions. Moreover, violations of human rights and freedoms are happening with full impunity for law enforcement bodies. The urgency and severity of the clampdown on civil society, significant brain drain and the emergence of new challenges, including, for example, pressure on businesses and illegal immigration make it inherently problematic to evaluate Belarus within the Index’s analytical framework. As the research-cycle of the 2021 Index was coming to a close, the government of Belarus suspended its participation in the EaP.
The rationale of the Index is first and foremost to identify change, the extent of change and the nature of it in EaP states. As in the 2017 edition of the Index the notion of ‘Approximation’ is used to see how far EaP states are moving closer to or shifting away from the EU. The 2021 Index sheds light on the gaps and discrepancies that often persist between legislative acts and actual implementation and practice.
The Index gauges approximation in two fundamental spheres:
• Democracy and Good Governance: approximation captures the extent to which EaP states have incorporated core European norms and international standards. The Index measures this by establishing whether EaP states have adopted, legislated for and also put into practice key international and European conventions and institutional norms relating to democracy and human rights. This incorporates: Democratic Rights, Elections and Political Pluralism; Human Rights and Protection against Torture; State Accountability; Independent Media; Freedom of Opinion, Expression, Assembly and Association; Independent Judiciary; Equal Opportunities and Non-discrimination; Fight Against Corruption and lastly, Public Administration.
• Policy Convergence with the EU: approximation identifies the extents to which EaP states have converged with, moved closer to or are shifting away from EU and international standards and norms in key policy fields and sectors. This incorporates: Market Economy and DCFTA; Freedom, Security and Justice; Energy Legislation and Energy Policy; Environment and Climate Policy and Transport Regulatory Policy.
• Identifying approximation with regards to Sustainable Development required a slightly different approach. By analysing the contents of UN and national reporting from EaP states as a means to chart progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focus was given to aspects that are the most salient to the overall objectives of the Index. Gauging EaP states progress in relation to the SDGs provides another layer to understanding developments in the region and in particular how countries are measuring up to their declared international development obligations.
The results presented in this report provide an up to date and nuanced appraisal of developments across core political, social and economic themes and issues in all six EaP states. The Index is based on national and sectoral expert-level insights from specialists in EaP countries working in CSOs, academia, the media and think tanks. Consequently, the results are grounded in authentic insights and understandings of the socio-economic and political landscapes of the countries in the region.
Attention is given to aggregate and disaggregate results. Findings are presented in charts accompanied by summary commentaries, which report on key findings and notable results. The Index also presents recommendations aimed at CSOs, national EaP authorities and the EU.
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.