From May 3-5, 2017, EU-STRAT team member Minna Ålander from Freie Universität Berlin took part in ‘The EU and Global Challenges: 28 Ideas from the Erasmus Generation’, a conference at the University of Florence, Italy. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, visited the conference for a Q&A session. Among other topics, she commented on the future of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative.
Mogherini stated that the EaP initiative will have to be developed to acknowledge the individual needs and contexts of the partner countries more accurately, a so-called ‘tailor-made’ approach to each country. The recent events in Ukraine especially have shown that the partners’ relations with Russia must be taken into consideration when tailoring these individual approaches, as some partners are in outright conflict with Russia, while others maintain close ties. Mogherini emphasised, however, that the main goal of the EaP is to make clear that having good relations with the EU does not exclude partners having good relations with Russia. Furthermore, Mogherini stressed the role of trade agreements as an important tool to enhance the partnerships with EaP countries. She named visa liberalisation with Ukraine as a priority and expressed her satisfaction with the recent successful negotiations of a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with Armenia in March 2017. Her statement highlighted the need for rethinking the EaP in the light of current developments, confirming the relevance of EU-STRAT’s research aims.