The Upcoming EaP Summit - Why the Trio Initiative Should Finally Find Its Way
Teona Lavrelashvili, European Party Monitor Manager, Brussels
Ramūnas Stanionis, Policy Advisor to MEP Andrius Kubilius
The EU and its Eastern Partners will at last hold the long-awaited summit on 15 December. It will be the first physical summit since the outbreak of the pandemic, and it is expected to provide a “reinvigorated vision for EU-EaP cooperation and to endorse the post-2020 agenda”. Although the EU has an important proposal for its partners, underpinned by a €2.3 billion Economic and Investment plan with the potential to mobilise up to €17 billion in public and private investments, including an increase in the security component, the vision of the EaP is missing. This fact may endanger the fate of the Associated Trio.
Despite the notorious enlargement fatigue which troubles many, the EaP and also (and primarily) the Western Balkan countries, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine remain hopeful in their European perspective, and express the unwavering objective of becoming full-fledged members of the EU. With the aim to increase their negotiating power vis a vis the EU, the three ministers of Foreign Affairs on 17 May signed a joint memorandum in Kyiv to establish the Associated Trio, and a few months later, their Heads of States adopted a trilateral declaration in the presence of European Council President Charles Michel. With this, the so-called Trio Process was launched, with Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova committing to work together for “a peaceful, democratic and prosperous European future”. Reactions to this appeared more hopeful than mixed. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe welcomed the format, and it also found endorsement in the European Parliament, where the Trio ministers were cordially met by the delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The Prime Ministers also recently concluded their meeting with the Presidents of the EU institutions in the Trio format ahead of the EaP Summit.
Yet, while some at the EU institutions (DG NEAR) remain cautious amid fears of seeing the EaP initiative becoming more fragmented and devoid of multilateral elements, others are convinced that this initiative, on the contrary, can bring a geopolitical perspective to the Eastern Partnership countries and revitalize the reform progress, despite their stalling today.
Fortunately, Brussels is increasingly aware that it will be very difficult to ignore the differences between EaP countries’ European aspirations and capacity to pursue EU integration. Therefore, it is not only likely but also necessary that, apart from endorsing the post-2020 agenda, the Eastern Partnership summit will take additional measures to acknowledge the Trio Process and agree on its intermediate goals. To assist in this, the Trio countries should become more entrepreneurial in designing their vision for the Trio initiative. Inspiration for a vision that will make the Trio process work can be drawn from the recently published paper by Chairman of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, Andrius Kubilius, and his political adviser Ramūnas Stanionis, who argue that the EaP policy should be reinvented by applying Romano Prodi’s “proximity policy”, a.k.a. “everything but institutions” to the Trio countries. The main ideas are the following:
- EU Trio Process and its Agenda - the implementation of the Associated Trio agenda could be steered together with EU Institutions and the Member States, which, as assistance to reforms in the Trio countries, could launch an EU process similar to the Berlin process enjoyed by the Western Balkans countries. This Trio Process could be led forward by a rotating presidency, which will be responsible for taking stock of the progress made and for setting the next steps. The EU institutions could start making regular annual progress reports for the EaP countries, which, with the help of EU methodology applied for the Western Balkans, would offer a comparative perspective for the Trio countries as well.
- Aim for the Trio’s gradual accession to the EU single market – the Trio’s agenda should contribute to the practical steps of accession to the EU Single Market - a cluster EEA-type intermediate model. This can be done by means of a Trio roadmap for EU law approximation alongside the EEA model, which has the same EU legal basis as the Association Agreements.
- Enhance the Trio’s institutional participation - More EU engagement is needed from a political and institutional perspective. Within the Trio Process, the practical elements of the Association Trio agenda could focus on building a connectivity strategy with the EU to build the infrastructure for access to the EU Single Market: interconnection projects for Energy, Transport, and the Digital agenda. A priority list of large-scale infrastructure projects should be set which will be reviewed annually. The implementation of this agenda can be boosted with the help of a to-be-created Associated Trio Infrastructure Framework (ATIF) which should have a secretariat in the EU Commission (DG NEAR). The ATIF will organise, twice per presidency, an 'investment coordination'. Furthermore, to boost the reforms capacity in the EaP countries, the Support Group for Ukraine (SGUA) should be extended to the remaining countries of the Associated Trio.
These are ambitious but at the same time feasible steps, and in order to put them (or some of them) into practice, a more systematic and enhanced approach for structured reflections about the Trio´s vision, and a strategy, are needed. The Associated Trio will not succeed unless there are sustained efforts not only from the EU, but also from the domestic actors, including societal groups, civil society organisations, think-tanks and political actors. To this end, it is worth thinking about establishing a Trio Advisory Group, which would be composed of CSOs, experts and think-tank representatives from the three countries, as well as from the EU. This type of platform or forum could be initiated by the Presidents of the European Council and European Commission in a special Civil Society Partners of the Trio Forum. This would have high political potential in terms of reform support and streamlining a strategy, and will help to increase stakeholder engagement and effective outreach.
Another idea would be reflecting on how to better involve the European Political Parties and their engagement with the sister parties from Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova in supporting the Associated Trio process, perhaps by encouraging them to create/improve the potential of internal party platforms and networks in order to increase their efforts to facilitate constructive dialogue to ensure cross-party consensus around the initiatives of the Trio process at the regional, domestic and EU levels.
In the absence of the EU enlargement perspective for these countries, the Trio process could be understood as a new momentum to seize and further elevate reform and economic growth progress in the Eastern Partnership. Obviously, this requires consolidating the efforts of political and societal actors, and, above all, clear political will to endorse such an initiative from the EU institutions and their leadership. That is why the upcoming EaP summit will be a watershed to either push for a visionary policy or to play “business as usual.” The latter, if chosen, however, will gradually hollow out the EU’s transformative power and overall geopolitical credibility.
- A Looming Winter Energy Crisis in Europe: Can Azerbaijan Become the Continent’s Next Large Energy Supplier?
- The Russian Exclave of Kaliningrad and the Lithuanian "Sting"
- Czech Presidency of the EU: Time for Re-orienting EU Foreign Policy?
- What could be the cost of “Putin’s face-saving” for European relations
- In line for the candidate status, Georgia will get a European perspective. What are we worried about?
- The break-up of the Hungarian-Polish coalition - an opportunity for the EU
- Failed Tskhinvali Referendum
- The War and Georgia
- "Autocratic Peace"
- “Rural Orbanism”- Polarization as a determinant for Hungary's political future
- Illegal Presidential Elections in the Tskhinvali Region: Why Bibilov Lost and What to Anticipate in Future
- How to Respond to Russian Ultra-Orthodox-Historic-Hegemonism?
- The War in Ukraine and the UK’s New Role in Eastern Europe
- What Will the Abolition of the OSCE Minsk Group Bring to the South Caucasus?
- The Presidential Election in France and Europe’s Political Future
- Will Pashinyan Be Able to Make a Drastic Turnaround in Armenian-Azerbaijani Relations?
- Why Has the Abkhaz Side Become More Active on Social Networks?
- Why a Neutral Ukraine Is Not on Putin’s Mind (Ukraine’s Neutral Status Is Getting Closer, but What Does It Mean to Putin?)
- Europe's energy future - challenges and opportunities
- Uncontrolled Mass Immigration and the Position of the Georgian Government
- Changes in Putin's propaganda narratives since the Russian invasion of Ukraine
- Ukraine will soon embark on a path of practical integration into the European Union. What about Georgia?
- Positions and Actions of Turkey in the Russo-Ukrainian War
- NATO’s possible expansion in Northern Europe and its significance for Georgia and Ukraine
- Political Winter Olympics in Beijing
- What Is behind Putin’s Sudden Gambit in Ukraine?
- Abkhazia in 2021: Energy Crisis, New “Minister” and Political Controversy
- L'Europe pourra-t-elle éviter le “déjà vu” ? (France, President of the Council of the European Union, and the Tensions in Eastern Europe)
- US-Russia Relations and the Issue of Ukraine
- The New Targets of Ramzan Kadyrov’s Regime
- What are the Prospects of the Eastern Partnership Summit Set on 15 December?
- What Will the Post-Merkel Era Mean for the EU’s Russia and Eastern Neighbourhood Policy?
- What Lies Behind the Growing Cooperation of the Georgian and Hungarian Governments
- “Doberman” as a Minister: Inal Ardzinba’s Prospects and Challenges
- The Belarus Crisis: How to Enhance Our Resilience Against the Russian Strategy for Its Near-Neighborhood
- Moldova’s Gas Crisis Has Been Russia’s Yet Another Political Blackmailing
- EU-Poland’s worsened relations and what it means for the EaP
- Lessons From Germany on Political Culture: What Georgia Can Learn From the German Parliamentary Elections
- Belarus One Year On: An Insecure Regime Under Russian “Protection”
- Why Did Iran-Azerbaijan Relations Become Strained?
- Russia’s Parliamentary Elections - What Can Be Said About the Regime’s Stability
- Six Key Takeaways from State of the Union Address - Too Little on EU Enlargement?
- An Emerging Foreign Policy Trend in Central and Eastern Europe: A Turn from China to Taiwan?
- Vaccination: “To Be, or not to Be”…
- Sharia Patrols in Kabardino-Balkaria: A Growing Trend or a Local Conflict?
- Belarus’ exit from the Eastern Partnership and what to expect next
- Pacta Sunt Servanda: Agreements must be kept
- The West vs Russia: The Reset once again?!
- Associated Trio, What is Next?
- Formation of a New “Political Elite” in Abkhazia - Who Will Replace the Old “Elite?”
- The symbolism of the EU flag and why a true Christian would not tear it down and burn it
- Securitization of the Arctic: A Looming Threat of Melting Ice
- The Issue of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region in the Context of NATO and European Union Membership
- (Re)Mapping the EU’s Relations with Russia: Time for Change?
- The Political Crisis in Moldova: A Deadlock without the Way Out?
- ‘Vaccine Diplomacy’: A New Opportunity for Global Authoritarian Influence?
- Deal with the ‘Dragon’: What Can Be the Repercussions of the China-EU Investment Agreement?
- Georgia’s Application for European Union Membership
- Who did the judge sentence: Navalny, Putin or Russia?
- Biden’s Conundrum
- 2020 Developments in Abkhazia: “Elections,” the Pandemic and Deeper Integration with Russia
- The Hungarian Crisis: Is the EU Failing against Authoritarianism?
- Could Belarus Become a Prelude to the Great Polish-Swedish War 400 Years Ago?
- COVID 19 Pandemic Economic Crisis and Reducing the Instability of Georgia’s National Currency
- Some Thoughts on the Use of the Term „Post-Soviet Space“
- Georgia’s European Way During the Period of Pandemic Deglobalization
- Turkey's Caucasus Policy Against the Backdrop of the Latest Armenia-Azerbaijan Tensions
- Khabarovsk Krai Protests as an Indicator of the Russian Federation’s Stability
- Political Crisis in Occupied Abkhazia
- What is the Significance of Killing General Qasem Soleimani?
- What Will the New Dialogue Format with Russia Bring for Georgia?
- On the “Russian Culture Center” in Georgia
- Whither Economic Policy?
- Main Messages of Russian Propaganda
- Massive Cyberattacks On Georgia Calls For Defense And Resilience
- What do we know about the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation and Georgia?
- New Focuses of the Anti-Occupation Policy
- Georgia's Problems are not Addressed at G7 Meetings: Who is to Blame?
- The Outcome of the European Parliament Elections - What Does it Mean for Georgia?
- Ten Years Since the Establishment of the Eastern Partnership
- Deterring Russia
- A New Chance for Circular Labor Migration between Georgia and the EU
- EU Soft Power and the Armenian [R]evolution
- Who Gets Russian Help?
- Is Georgia’s Export Growth Sustainable?
- Putin’s Visit to the Occupied Abkhazia: Was our Reaction Actually Adequate?
- Pence’s Visit to Georgia: Several Lessons and What We Should be Expecting
- Is it Acceptable for Georgia to Declare Neutrality?
- Georgia’s European Perspective in the Context of EU’s Future Evolution
- Brexit Negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom have been re-launched: What will be their Influence on Georgia?
- How to Stop the “Creeping Occupation”
- Kremlin’s Policy in the Occupied Regions of Georgia Moves to a New Stage
- Syrian Civil War in the Context of Regional Security
- The Winnable Second Round of Russia’s Neighbors’ Struggle against Its Imperialism
- Turkey’s Domestic and Foreign Policy in the Context of Regional Security
- Post-Soviet States – Struggle for the Legitimation of Power
- New Russian Weaponry in the Caucasus and Its Impact on Georgia’s NATO Aspiration