Network of Think Tanks on the Eastern Partnership

Last year’s celebration of 10 years of the Eastern Partnership was an opportunity to take stock of the achievements of the “20 Deliverables for 2020” framework and the discussions that are underway on the successor to this agenda.

The Joint Communication on the Eastern Partnership policy beyond 2020 “Reinforcing Resilience: An Eastern Partnership that Delivers for All” calls for the European Union to “engage more systematically with think tanks covering the EaP.”

In order to meet this objective, a network of think tanks with interest in the Eastern Partnership is being established. We invite you to join the conversation on what role this network could play.

Purpose of the Network

With this network, we aim to engage leading think tanks, policy experts, and policymakers from the 27 EU member states and the 6 eastern partners and beyond in an ongoing inclusive, coordinated, and systematic dialogue on the EU’s post-2020 eastern policy. The network will support structured dialogue among stakeholders with interest in the development of EU policy in relation to the Eastern Partnership.

Over the coming year, we seek to understand the expectations of stakeholders and build a calendar of relevant activities both to increase networking between think tanks and policymakers, and to increase outreach to the wider public in a spirit of strategic communication. 

Planned Activities

A number of activities are proposed to kick-start the network.

Workshops 

Three quarterly workshops are planned over the course of one year to discuss policy priorities and challenges, provide policy advice, and publish papers on topics relevant to the EU’s current and long-term Eastern Partnership agenda.

The first workshop was convened by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) on November 25, 2020. Ahead of this meeting, DGAP sent out a survey to interested think tanks in order to explore which topics they would like to see discussed throughout the next 12 months, the coordination mechanism and outcomes of the network, and how they see the network developing and becoming sustainable in the future. The results of this survey were then discussed during the workshop, which aimed to set the agenda for the project’s first year and determine the process for setting up the network of think tanks and its further activities, which will be coordinated by DGAP.

To ensure the openness and inclusivity of the network, experts were able to opt in/out for specific sessions of the initial workshop or participate during its entire length based on their interest and expertise.

We plan to jointly host each successive workshop with one of the think tank partners in the network that has expressed interest in organizing it. We aim to have a total of 30 to 50 participants in each of the workshops’ sessions.

To kick off discussions, each workshop will include an input paper written by and circulated among members of the network ahead of the meeting. PDFs of the two input papers from the first workshop – one by Cristina Gherasimov (DGAP) and one by Nicu Popescu (ECFR) and Iulian Groza (IPRE) – are available to download from this page.

 

National Consultations

The purpose of the national consultations is to strengthen the quality of the workshop discussions by taking a deep dive into national context within the Eastern Partnership region and help develop the network in national contexts. 

To have a better understanding of the realities on the ground and more informed discussions during the workshops, national consultations will be organized for each of the six EaP countries before the workshops take place (except prior to workshop #1). Think tanks based in the eastern partners are encouraged to co-organize these consultations. 

Public Events

Each workshop will be followed by a public event during which the main takeaways will be communicated and further discussed with the wider public to reach out to other interested stakeholders and the foreign policy community, including parliamentarians and other political actors from the hosting country. 

The proposed closed-door debates, national consultations, and public discussions provide opportunity for a frank and inclusive exchange of ideas among leading think tankers and the policymaking community from across the 27 EU member states, the 6 eastern partners, and beyond.

The network was 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.” Here, you will find the agenda and recording of this event.

Who Can Participate?

This project targets mainly policymakers and the think tank community of experts in the 27 EU member states and the 6 EaP countries. Think tanks based in other European countries can also join.

For the purpose of this network, think tanks are defined as public policy research, analysis, and engagement organizations. They are organizations that generate policy-oriented research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues that enable policymakers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy issues. These institutions often act as a bridge between the academic and policymaking 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 policymakers and the public. The major outputs of these organizations are books, monographs, reports, policy briefs, blogs, conferences, seminars, web-based reports and commentary, and formal briefings and informal discussions with policymakers, government officials, and key stakeholders. 

Any think tank organization that is active in a EU member state or EaP partner country can express interest in joining the network by completing the following survey. If your organization is eligible, we will contact you soon with an invitation to join the network.

Please note that participation in the network’s activities are not open to academics who do not have a think tank affiliation or to organizations that are fully funded by their governments.

If you have more questions regarding the network, please get in touch with Cristina Gherasimov at the German Council on Foreign Relations, the coordinating organization of the network.

Contacts

•    Dr. Laura Gelhaus, German Council on Foreign Relations, gelhaus@dgap.org
•    Simion Costea, DG NEAR, European Commission, Simion.COSTEA@ec.europa.eu
•    Eleni Fedorova, Cecoforma, eleni.fedorova@cecoforma.com

Publications