The EU's Eastern
Partnership policy is unlikely to become substantially more ambitious in
the years to come. This is not a consequence of the pandemic, but rather of a policy shift in the
mid-2010s, following the ENP review. It does not mean, however, that the EU will scale back its
involvement in the region.
The Eastern Partnership post-2020 will remain embedded in the
pragmatic approach that was initiated by the 2015 ENP review. The EU will primarily seek to deliver
tangible results in the areas that were outlined in 2017 in the "20 Deliverables for 2020". The EU's
response to the pandemic in EaP countries (i.e. the mobilisation of an emergency support package for
all 6 countries) follows this result-oriented approach.
At the same time, the Eastern
Partnership will return to the fundamentals. Democracy, human rights and the rule of law will be key
priorities, not least because they remain substantial challenges for all EaP countries.
global pandemic puts the Eurasian integration process to the test. It may deepen
divergences between EAEU members about future integration. Admittedly, this is a problem the EAEU
shares with other regional organisations, including with the EU.
However, in the EAEU's
case, disagreements among member states and, ultimately, their reluctance to limit their sovereignty
have undermined any substantial progress on further integration. To be sure, the shock caused by the
pandemic could just as well boost integration. But the EAEU summit on May 19th glaringly
exposed the disagreements between member states on the Union's strategic orientation in the next
five years. Therefore, more stagnation can be expected in the near future.
pandemic is likely to affect EU-Russia interaction in the region. Interestingly, it
could either foster cooperation or fuel rivalry in the region.
coexistence or competition prevails will depend primarily on the pandemic's effect on the EU's and
Russia's political systems and economies. In the absence of any substantial domestic change,
EU-Russia interaction is unlikely to depart from the current coexistence-competition pendulum.
EU-Russia relations will also remain sensitive to domestic developments in the Eastern European and
South Caucasus countries and, increasingly, to global dynamics and US-China relations. However,
despite being permeated by both local and global dynamics, EU-Russia interaction will remain
critical in addressing the challenges in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus.