A new proposal by Sweden and Poland to strengthen the EU’s ties with its eastern neighbours to be officially presented today is not meant to undermine but rather enhance existing EU policies, according to a draft paper obtained by EURACTIV.
The paper will be presented at a meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers in Brussels today (26 May).
Mirroring the countries already covered by the ENP scheme, the new initiative aims to improve ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and particularly Ukraine. The draft paper suggests that a new Enhanced Partnership Agreement (EPA) currently being negotiated with Ukraine “could serve as a reference” for other countries.
France, which takes over the EU Presidency in July, also recently intensified its efforts with Ukraine, pushing for the country to be granted ‘privileged’ status’ with the EU.
The new initiative is seen as a complement to the French-driven ‘Union for the Mediterranean’ proposal, but unlike the original French vision, the Polish-Swedish proposal clearly states that it would be embedded into existing EU structures and does not seek additional funding but is financed solely out of the ENP budget.
The main difference with the bilateral ENP scheme is that the Polish-Swedish initiative instead stresses multilateral cooperation in fields like migration, visa-free travel, free-trade and the environment.
Projects could also be extended to Russia, according to the draft paper.