Title: Making Association Work: Achievements in and obstacles to reforms in energy, transport and environment
Authors: Laure Delcour and Klaudijus Maniokas
Release date: March 2019
The Association Agreements (AA) concluded between the EU and the three Eastern Partnership countries — namely Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia — are amongst the most comprehensive and detailed agreements the EU has concluded with any third country. Crucially, they are very ambitious in terms of law harmonization. The three associated countries have committed themselves to adopting a substantial part of the EU’s rules – the so-called acquis communautaire.
However, the scope and depth of reforms required from the associated countries is at odds with their current level of socio-economic development. While the EU expects the AA to serve as a blueprint for the modernization of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, the relevance of its acquis to their needs is to a large extent questionable.
This policy brief discusses the key issues faced by the partner countries in conducting domestic change (defined here as transposition and implementation of EU rules) in response to the AAs in the energy, environment and transport sectors. With the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) and visa liberalization, the EU offers clear rewards in exchange for massive reforms (in the form of easier market access and people mobility, respectively). In contrast to trade and mobility, such tangible rewards are largely absent in the energy, transport and environment sectors. Therefore, we ask whether the EU’s promise of modernization through the acquis has proven effective to entice the three associated countries into wide-ranging policy change in these sectors.