Think Tank Network on the Eastern Partnership

The EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) is heading toward challenging times. Ongoing human rights violations in Belarus, the dangerous situation in Eastern Ukraine, and the second Nagorno-Karabakh War between Azerbaijan and Armenia demonstrate that the EU needs more – not less – engagement in the region. At the same time, the EU has to respond to the demands of the so-called Association Trio of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia to enhance its offers for the region.

Think tanks have a crucial role to play in analyzing such trends and highlighting ways to address them. This was underlined by the Joint Communication “Reinforcing Resilience: An Eastern Partnership that Delivers for All” from March 2020, which called for the EU to “engage more systematically with think tanks covering the EaP.”

To meet this objective, the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) – with the support of the European Commission – established the Network of Think Tanks on the Eastern Partnership. The network engages a diverse range of think tanks, policy experts, and policymakers from the EU, the six eastern partners, and beyond in an inclusive and systematic dialogue.

Activities

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.” Here, you will find the agenda and recording of this event. A second high-level event is planned for December 2021, ahead of the EaP Summit.

The network also organizes a series of workshops during which policymakers and think tankers discuss relevant challenges for EaP countries. In November 2020, the 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 by Dr. Cristina Gherasimov and by Nicu Popescu and Iulian Groza, respectively. Participants also brainstormed the expectations, objectives, and activities for the network itself. In June 2021, the second workshop discussed the Rule of Law in the partner countries, informed by an input paper by Pavel Havlicek, as well as the geopolitical challenges for the EaP in light of the upcoming EaP Summit. A third workshop is planned for Fall 2021 on green transformations in the EaP partner countries.

The network’s third meeting format consists of national consultations, which are closed-door discussions with a small number of local experts in the six EaP partner countries. These consultations provide an understanding of local realities and therefore help develop evidence-based and context-relevant discussions at workshops and in the input papers the network produces. Each national consultation is co-organized by a local member think tank.

The network occasionally also organizes additional events outside of these formats, including a high-level panel at Bled Strategic Forum 2021, which was introduced with a keynote by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

Who Can Participate?

Think tanks from the EU, the Eastern neighborhood, and other European countries are invited to join on a rolling basis. 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 policymakers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy issues and often bridge 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 outputs of these organizations include books, reports, policy briefs, blogs, conferences, seminars, and commentary, as well as formal briefings and informal discussions with policymakers and other key stakeholders. 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 express your interest here. If you have more questions regarding the network, please get in touch with Laura Gelhaus at DGAP.

Publications