The Eastern Partnership brings together the EU, its member states, and its six Eastern neighbours – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
For the last ten years, the partners have been working together to build a common area of democracy, prosperity and stability. In everyday life, this means a stronger economy, stronger institutions and greater trust, a cleaner environment, safe and sustainable energy supply, opportunities for people across society and especially the young: ultimately, it means a better quality of life for all. The Eastern Partnership does not mean EU membership, but it does provide the framework for countries to build a closer relationship with the European Union, if they choose to do so.
The European Union’s interest is very clear: stable, secure and prosperous neighbours are vital for the EU's own stability, security and prosperity – “We must export stability… to avoid importing instability,” in the words of the EU's Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy, Johannes Hahn.
At the same time, the Eastern Partnership opens new markets and consumers for businesses on both sides, especially through free trade agreements like the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between the EU and Ukraine. The partnership also opens new markets for tourism, and the opportunity for young people – from both sides – to exchange, travel and broaden their experience.
A stronger Ukraine also means a stronger European Union.
EU funds always face rigorous monitoring and reporting procedures – both internal and external – in order to assess the value and impact of actions, and with strict financial auditing to make sure the money spent is properly accounted for. Even when dealing with state budget support, money is only released when agreed targets have been met – and the EU can and does hold back payment until it can see credible action to put objectives back on track.
Fighting corruption is a top priority in European Union cooperation with its Eastern partners, with many actions supporting the rule of law, transparency, and effective public administration. By ensuring that European funds are properly spent not only contributes to a stronger economy and society in each partner country, it ensures that citizens – both Ukrainian and from EU member states – can truly enjoy the benefits of a closer partnership.
Ukraine is a priority partner for the European Union, a partnership underlined by the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area which came into force in 2017.
It means Ukrainian exports to the European Union are increasing – up 27% in 2017, and with the EU accounting for more than 42% of Ukrainian trade. It means that almost €200 million worth of loans have been provided to Ukrainian companies with EU support, contributing to thousands of jobs.
EU cooperation is helping to cut red tape for businesses and citizens, and to provide better administration for the public – with 27 new administrative centres opening in all oblasts. The
EU is also supporting victims of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, with 500,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) supported directly with EU funding and over 1,500 IDP entrepreneurs receiving grants to establish new businesses. It is also opening travel, study and professional opportunities for Ukrainians: there have been more than 2 million visa-free visits to the EU since visa-free travel for Ukrainians came into force in June 2017, while more than 7,250 Ukrainian students and education staff are benefiting from the Erasmus+ exchange programme.
It could be you: people from all walks of life have seen a direct impact from EU support – people like farmer Andriy Soroka, who received a low-interest loan from the EU to modernise his equipment; now he farms 300 hectares and has been able to raise wages and improve conditions on his farm. Or secondary school teacher Daria Artsymieieva from Novopillya, who is involved in a twinning project with European schools – “we can show Ukrainian children that everything is possible”.
In Zhmerynka, the town’s 35,000 residents are seeing the benefits of energy efficiency measures which are saving more than €80,000 a year. Two state schools and two kindergartens in the town have received energy renovations with EU support, not only saving energy and money, but keeping children warm in winter.
Tetiana Diuzheva left her native Luhansk because of the war: disabled and trying to adapt in a new home, she received EU support to buy sewing equipment for her craft business.
The EU NEIGHBOURS website tracks and publishes all the latest EU opportunities. Whether it's a study visit for youth workers to Finland, a traineeship at the European Parliament, funding for energy efficiency initiatives, digital training for NGOs or a marketing workshop for small businesses you’ll find all the opportunities in the dedicated section of the EU Neighbours website.
If you are a small business or an entrepreneur, you will also find a wide range of training and funding opportunities on the EU4Business website, while young people interested in exchange and study opportunities should check out the national Erasmus+ office in Ukraine.
2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership. Over the past decade, the efforts of the EU and its partner countries have brought more trade, mobility, economic development and better quality of life.
The partnership does not stop there: the EU and its Eastern partners have set 20 key targets to be achieved by next year – known as the ‘20 Deliverables for 2020’ – and efforts are ongoing to meet those targets across good government, economic development, energy, environment and transport, and stronger society, as well as on gender equality, the media and civil society.