You are here

Eastern neighbours & Russia

The Eastern neighbourhood is of strategic importance to the EU: although the Union’s relations with the states of the region vary significantly, the EU and its Eastern neighbours maintain high levels of interdependence in several different spheres, from trade and energy flows to the joint management of security challenges and migration.

The EU has long developed its policies in the region and its relations with Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership.

Association Agreements containing provisions on the establishment of deep and comprehensive free trade areas, form the cornerstones of EU engagement. Such agreements have been signed and are implemented by Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.

 Eastern neighbours & Russia 2.0

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine reshaped demographics, geoeconomics, and geopolitics in the Eastern Partnership states. It also prompted the EU to innovate its engagement with the countries of which it consists. Security has become a key emphasis in addition to trade, energy or migration The EU and Member States provide Ukraine with substantial support that includes military assistance and training, while security cooperation with Moldova has been upgraded and the EU has engaged in mediation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

In a dramatic change to the existing paradigm, the enlargement agenda has been expanded to the Eastern neighbourhood. Russia’s war on Ukraine encouraged the ‘Association Trio’ of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia to formally apply for EU membership. The three states were granted the European perspective in return - Ukraine and Moldova received candidate status in June 2022, while Georgia was recognised as a potential candidate. Relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan also see developments outside of the enlargement track.

Over the coming years, the newfound momentum of the EU’s engagement with Eastern neighbours needs to be sustained by political will and sufficient resources. The EU’s success in the neighbourhood will depend to a great extent on its actions in the security realm – not only in Ukraine, but also in Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, given that Russia’s war and other trends in the regional security altered the status quo of protracted conflicts in these countries, creating also new needs for humanitarian assistance. Progress in the enlargement process will also be a major driver of positive change in the region, together with the easing of remaining trade barriers, encouraging good governance and regional connectivity conducive to peace and prosperity in the region.

Until 2022, the EU and Russia were bound by a dense web of political, economic and people-to-people contacts. Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has fundamentally reconfigured the EU’s relationship with Moscow. The EU's response to Russia's war on Ukraine now dominates the mutual relationship, with Russia subject to multiple rounds of restrictive measures and the economic and energy relations having undergone a significant decoupling. 

Pages

  • Download document
    06December 2013

    This alert assesses the state of play of politics in the Union’s eastern neighbourhood in the aftermath of the Vilnius Summit. How should the EU proceed with Ukraine following its dramatic refusal to initial an Association Agreement? And how can it ensure the other Eastern Partnership countries stay on track in the face of both domestic and foreign pressure?

  • Download document
    29November 2013

    This brief analyses what impact the five BRICS countries are likely to have in global politics in the years to come, and what future trajectory the grouping might take. The BRICS ‘club’ may or may not last – in its present or another formation – but its rise is a wake-up call for the EU to deepen its bilateral relations with individual BRICS and possibly reconsider its own position in the emerging system of global governance.

  • Download document
    22November 2013

    With an increase in the number and scale of acts of vigilantism by semi-organised nationalist groups, the Russian authorities now find themselves –and their political system – under serious pressure. But in addition to a significant mutation in Russian nationalism, what wider trends are at play? And what effect will this rising xenophobia have on Russia’s foreign policy goals?

  • Download document
    18October 2013

    This alert explores the reasons behind Armenia’s shock decision to give up on its association and free trade deal with the EU and highlights the possibilities for the Union to enhance its relations with states in the eastern neighbourhood. Are we now witnessing the formation of a ‘two-tier’ Eastern Partnership?

  • Download document
    19September 2013

    As the EU negotiates the final phase of the Eastern Partnership process, this alert explores how the Union might consider launching an ‘EaP interim solidarity package’ to offset potential economic losses incurred by eastern-partner countries due to external pressures.

  • Download document
    06September 2013

    As the EU and most of its eastern partners enter the final phases of signing Association and Deep and Comprehensive Free-Trade Area agreements, this alert highlights the pitfalls that can still derail the process, as Russia steps up economic pressure on countries like Armenia and Ukraine.

  • Download document
    05September 2013

    With the G20 summit underway, this alert explores the reasons for continued Russian intransigence on Syria. If support of the Assad regime is not simply designed to irk the West, what other, deeper considerations are at play in this unlikely partnership?

  • Download document
    30August 2013

    Russia’s recent step to essentially block imports from its neighbour marked the opening salvo in a dispute that may still escalate into a full blown trade war. However, with the prospect of further Ukrainian economic integration with the EU in the form of an Association Agreement looming on the horizon, might Moscow’s actions prove, once again, self-defeating?

  • Download document
    15July 2013

    This alert examines the battle for supplying gas to Kiev, explaining how the once powerful monopolistic strategies of Gazprom - take-or-pay clauses, market partitioning and destination clauses - have either been neutralised or even turned against the company through the logic of the market and the regulatory power of the EU.

  • Download document
    08July 2013
    By

    This brief offers an evaluation of the ongoing political transition in Georgia explaining that, although the risk of major social unrest remains low, and that there is no geopolitical drift away from the West, there are a number of issues of concern for the international community: the transparency of the judicial process, the lack of political vision currently demonstrated by the government, and the rising influence of traditionalist forces in Georgian society.

Pages

Pages

  • Download document
    14February 2008

    Where is Ukraine going? As this Chaillot Paper endeavours to show, Ukraine itself has great potential to either stabilise or destabilise the region. Therefore, the question of Ukraine’s future orientation is of crucial importance for European security in general.

  • Download document
    01December 2007

    The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) framework obliges the EU to coordinate closely with Georgia on its policies for conflict resolution in the breakaway entities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Brussels and Tbilisi do not share the same time perspective, however.

  • Download document
    01October 2007

    Over the last ten years, the EU Special Representatives (EUSRs) have pioneered EU foreign policy in countries and regions of direct interest to the Union. EUSRs are a face of the Union, enhancing its visibility, and they give it a voice, seeking to deliver a single message to local and international partners, playing an important role in EU foreign policy.

  • Download document
    01September 2007

    By introducing the Wider Europe concept and the European Neighborhood Policy, the European Union has actually entered a region which Russia has long considered the sphere of its national interests. The Occasional Paper explores the resultant ‘zero-sum game’.

  • Download document
    01May 2007

    Lorsque les mondes figés de la Guerre froide et de la Détente se sont effondrés pour donner naissance à une nouvelle Europe, s’est posée la question de savoir quelle relation allaient bien pouvoir entretenir les deux puissances contraintes désormais de se partager pacifiquement un continent : l’Union européenne et la Russie.

  • Download file
    01July 2006

    For much of the 1990s, Central Asia was not on the EU radar screen. Lately, however, it has started to matter for the EU. The ongoing European military commitment in Afghanistan, the events in Andijan in Uzbekistan, the violent change of power in Kyrgyzstan – all highlight a highly volatile region.

  • Download document
    29May 2006

    The European Union Institute for Security Studies was given the role of deepening cooperation with the Russian academic community in the field of crisis management. This paper is a first product of this joint research project. The objective here was for Professor Nikitin to explore in a frank manner how Russian elites and observers view the EU, ESDP and key security developments around Russia.

  • Download document
    01April 2006

    The OSCE is in crisis. There can be no doubt but that the OSCE today, as compared to its heyday during the Cold War and in the mid-1990s, is a far less visible landmark on the European institutional landscape than was formerly the case.

  • Download document
    01February 2006

    The Rose Revolution of 2003 may have brought fragile democracy to this former Soviet republic, but the country remains bedevilled by institutional weakness and internal conflicts. This Chaillot Paper evaluates the EU’s stakes in Georgia as well as the security challenges it poses, and presents ways forward for EU engagement to strengthen this strategically important state.

  • Download document
    18January 2006

    The appointment of a new EU Special Representative towards the South Caucasus offers an opportunity to review EU policy towards the region. The following analysis is an extract of a Chaillot Paper, entitled 'Why Georgia Matters', focusing on how the EU can sharpen its policy towards Georgia in particular.

Pages