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The EU and its Eastern Partners: Conditionality and Expected Benefits. How does the Russia Factor Matter?


Slow progress within the EU Eastern Partnership (EaP) program and disappointment of all affected partners can be explained by both problems arising on the EU and the Eastern partners' side. Problems on EU side include some major deficiencies like the lack of incentive of EU membership or the slow progress in the visa-free movement of people, the a second major issue for most EaPs. All in all the "carrot" offered by the EU is a small one compared to the appetite of the targeted countries. Eastern partners can also be blamed since most of them delay in "doing their homework" to transform their political, juridical or economic systems. The paper argues that in some cases this "delay" is greatly influenced by a third factor, namely the forced choice on foreign policy orientation for which Eastern partners seem to be either not ready or not dedicated enough. The next EU-EaP summit (Vilnius, 28-29 November 2013) might become a milestone in this respect. The core of the problem roots in the EU "offer" of deep and comprehensive free trade agreements (DCFTAs) that institutionally exclude the possibility of the Eastern partner's parallel economic integration towards East. The first-ever EU EaP Association Agreement including a DCFTA is expected to be signed in this summit with Ukraine.

Revised version of a paper presented at the Lisboan seminar on "The European Neighbourhood Policy and the Lisbon Treaty: What has changed?", Rome, 22 March 2013.

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