Russia’s war against Ukraine has changed not only the architecture of Europe’s security order but also directly impacted the EU’s neighborhood and enlargement policy. On June 23 to 24, 2022, the European Council adopted conclusions on the applications of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia – the so-called Associated Trio – for EU membership. Its granting of candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova and its readiness to grant this status to Georgia once the country has addressed some key reforms marked a watershed moment for both the eastern neighborhood and the EU’s role in this region.
With all eyes on the EU’s next steps and the debates in its member states, the dynamics of European foreign policy have already shifted. Given Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, the EU is expected to play a new, geopolitical role in both its neighborhood and the world. The idea of a European Political Community recently proposed by French President Emanuel Macron and echoed by European Council President Charles Michel offers a new framework for countries across the continent – Wider Europe – to address issues related to security and geopolitics. In addition, it is becoming more important to address the region that includes the south Caucasus and the countries of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) – Wider Black Sea – that could become another hub for cooperation with focus on connectivity, including energy and transportation, as well as security.
The Think Tank Network on the Eastern Partnership, initiated by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in fall 2020 with the support of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), brings together think tanks from the EU and the countries of the Eastern Partnership. The platform gives them the opportunity to identify and discuss rapidly changing developments and critical issues for the future of the neighborhood and enlargement policies. It also aims to foster systematic cooperation among the participating think tanks and with EU policy-makers on key questions such as:
- What are the consequences of the European Council’s conclusions and what do they mean for the EU and its policies on the Eastern Partnership and enlargement?
- What are the implications and next steps for Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia? What will the framework be to link these countries to the Western Balkans?
- How can the EU adapt its policies to respond to the challenges in its eastern neighborhood? Can the EU become a geopolitical actor?
The network has produced a variety of events and publications that focus, for example, on the rule of law and green transformation in the countries of the Eastern Partnership. Some events are public, including those with high-level representatives from the European External Action Service (EEAS) and DG NEAR, while others are closed-door workshops for network members. The latter are informed by publications based on so-called national consultations – discussions of a focal topic with experts and representatives of civil society from every Eastern Partnership country.
- Sept. 2022: National Consultations
Network organizers traveled to Georgia and Armenia for high-level consultations.
- Aug. 2022: Bled Strategic Forum
Organizers of the network attended high-level panels and met contacts at the Bled Strategic Forum 2022.
- July 2022: Workshop on Candidate Status Recommendations
The following questions related to the European Council’s recommendations of June 23 and 24 on Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia were discussed:
- What do these recommendations mean for the future of the EU, the Eastern Partnership (EaP), and enlargement policies?
- How will they affect Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine and what actual steps will be taken next in these applicant countries?
- What will the spillover effects on the region be?
- Will new synergies be created between EaP countries and the Western Balkans?
- What are the implications for Armenia and Azerbaijan?
- How will relations between the EU and Belarus develop?
In the first part of the workshop, DG NEAR and EEAS gave an update that focused on the consequences of the Council’s conclusions and their implications for the EU, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. In the second part, reflections were shared from the capitals of the countries of the Eastern Partnership.
- June 2022: Consultations
Consultations were held in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, and with EU institutions in Brussels.
- May 2022: Workshop on the Impact of Russia’s War in Ukraine
Participants discussed how Russia’s war against Ukraine has changed not only the architecture of Europe’s security order but also directly impacted the EU’s neighborhood and enlargement policy.
- Nov. 2021: Workshop on Green Transformation
On November 25, 2021, the network held a workshop on the green transformation in EaP countries informed by the following:
- Input paper by Michael Emerson (CEPS): Strategic Implications of the Green Deal for the Eastern Partnership
- Input paper by Mykhailo Gonchar, Oksana Ishchuk, Igor Stukalenko, and Andrii Chubyk (Centre for Global Studies Strategy XXI): Promoting Environmental Sustainability in the EaP Countries in the Context of the European Green Deal
- Input paper by Sofia Strive (ForumCiv): Where Is the EU Heading with the EaP and What Does the JSWD Tell Us?
- Input paper by Vano Chkhikvadze (Open Society Georgia Foundation): The EU’s Vision for the Eastern Partnership: More Money, Less Political Ambition
- Input paper by Katsiaryna Shmatsina (Wilson Center): The Eastern Partnership Is as Strong as Its Weakest Link: The Case of Belarus
- Sept. 2021: Bled Strategic Forum
Organizers of the network attended high-level panels and met contacts at the Bled Strategic Forum 2021.
- June 2021: Workshop on the Rule of Law in EaP Countries
The network’s second workshop discussed the rule of law in the partner countries, informed by the paper below, as well as the geopolitical challenges for the EaP in light of the upcoming EaP Summit.
- Input paper by Pavel Havlicek (Association for International Affairs): The Rule of Law in the Eastern Partnership
- Dec. 2020: “The Future of the EU’s Eastern Partnership”
This event brought together key policy-makers and think tankers to discuss current challenges, opportunities, and ways forward for the EaP. It consisted of three separate parts. The main one was a high-level panel discussion with policy-makers and senior experts on the broader expectations for the December summit. It was followed by two spotlight sessions, each of which focused on a pressing crisis for the EaP. The first session examined the political situation in Belarus; the second the continued existence of unresolved conflicts in the EU’s eastern neighborhood.
See a recording here.
- Nov. 2020: Workshop on Challenges and Crises in the EaP
In November 2020, the network’s first two-part workshop discussed the various crises facing the EaP and how to ensure that the new EaP objectives would be fit for the future. Each session was guided by an input paper, which can be found below. Participants also brainstormed the expectations, objectives, and activities for the network itself.
- Input paper by Dr. Cristina Gherasimov (DGAP): Reshaped Geopolitics and Increased Turmoil in the EU’s Eastern Neighborhood in 2020
- Input paper by Nicu Popescu (ECFR) and Iulian Groza (IPRE): The Eastern Partnership Beyond 2020: Making the New Deliverables Fit for the Future
- Sept. 2020: Launch of the Network
The network was formally launched on September 30, 2020, with the high-level think tank event “EU’s Eastern Partnership in Times of Upheaval and New Configurations in the Neighborhood.”
See an agenda and recording here.
Participating Think Tanks
The Think Tank Network on the Eastern Partnership currently connects more than 90 think tank members.
|Please note: For the purpose of this network, think tanks are defined as public policy research, analysis, and engagement organizations that generate policy-oriented research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues. Think tanks enable policy-makers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy issues and often bridge academic and policy-making communities, serving the public interest as an independent voice that translates applied and basic research into a language and form that is understandable, reliable, and accessible for policy-makers and the public. The outputs of these organizations include books, reports, policy briefs, blogs, conferences, seminars, and commentary, as well as formal briefings and informal discussions with policy-makers and other key stakeholders.|
Think tanks from the EU, the Eastern neighborhood, and other European countries are invited to join on a rolling basis.
Please note that participation in the network’s activities is not open to academics who do not have a think tank affiliation or to organizations that are fully funded by their governments.
If you would like to join the network, please get in touch with Anastasia Pociumban at DGAP.