The Council of the European Union has published its conclusions on the Eastern Partnership after the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on February 18.
The Council reaffirms the importance it attaches to the Eastern Partnership, as a specific dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy, and its objective of accelerating the political association and deepening the economic integration of the Eastern European partner countries with the EU, based on the Eastern Partnership Joint Summit Declarations of May 2009 and September 2011.
The Council acknowledges the European aspirations and the European choice of some partners and their commitment to build deep and sustainable democracy. It highlights the particular role of the Eastern Partnership to support those who seek an ever closer relationship with the EU.
Looking forward to the Vilnius Summit, it emphasizes that the pace of reforms will determine the intensity of cooperation and partners most engaged in reforms will benefit most from their relationship with the EU. In this context, the Council looks forward to the elections in 2013 in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and underlines the importance of them being held in line with international standards and previous relevant recommendations by OSCE/ODIHR.
The Council recalls that the European Council has called for progress as regards the Association Agreements including DCFTAs with the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Armenia with a view to their finalisation by the time of the Summit. It appreciates the launching of work with these partners on Association Agendas to replace the ENP Action Plans with the view to preparing for and facilitating the implementation of the Association Agreements.
The Council reminds that negotiations on both the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements with Armenia have been swiftly concluded and the Visa Facilitation Agreement with Armenia was signed in December 2012. The Council now looks forward to their entry into force by the time of the Vilnius Summit.