The European Union has decided on policies regarding the Eastern Partnership after 2020. The relevant document was approved by the EU Council on Monday, May 11. It seems to me that this topic is important, because a very large percentage of volunteers come to projects from countries of eastern Europe or Russia like me.
Disputes over European aspirations
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) unites the EU and six post-Soviet countries: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. This program is not expensive to join, but instead is aimed at political association and economic integration with the European Union. Moreover, Brussels emphasizes that each of the six countries, by agreement with the EU, determines the depth of such rapprochement. During the approval of the document, disputes broke out again within the European Union whether to recognize the “European aspirations” and the “European choice” of the EaP countries. And this despite the fact that such recognition is enshrined in association agreements with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. However, for some countries, the mention of "aspiration and choice" is too close to the beginning of the discussion about the recognition of the prospect of membership. The greatest skeptics of further EU enlargement include France and the Netherlands.
EU awaits reform
The main practical goal of the EaP and after 2020 will remain reforms. The EU Council emphasized that their implementation is entirely in the hands of partner countries, while the EU is ready to support these efforts, in particular by providing "adequate financial and expert assistance."
Russia is not mentioned, but is meant
The EU Council again emphasized that the Eastern Partnership "is not directed against anyone." At the same time, Russia is not mentioned, but it refers primarily to it. Recently, this issue has caused new controversy. The EU Council is deeply concerned about continued violations of international law in some countries of the region.
Economics and environmental protection
Most of the new elements in the document relate to economics and environmental protection. The EU Council noted the importance of "creating conditions for the continued harmonization of associated countries (Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova) with the EU internal market." It can be expected that one of the main topics in the coming years will be the reduction or abolition of roaming charges both between the Eastern Partnership countries and between them and the EU. It seems to me that this will significantly facilitate communication between youth and European volunteers. For example, I use the mobile network of Aldi Tarif. And when I call the camps of the European Union, I have no problems, but once I called my mother, in Russia. I had 5 euros in my account, but it was minus 14. Not a very pleasant situation, a little expensive for a three-minute call. I hope that this will improve.
Eastern Partnership Against Pandemic
The EU Council did not forget about the pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease COVID-19. The document noted that in order to overcome it, "enhanced cooperation" with the EaP countries is necessary. The EU Council promised to support the strengthening of health systems there with "practical" measures, but did not give details. The document welcomed the already launched EU support packages in the fight against coronavirus.