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How to further shape the EU’s relations with its eastern neighbours

On 11 May 2012, the IEP Study Group Enlargement / Neigh­bourhood Policy met in the European House, Berlin, to discuss the topic of “Associ­ation agree­ments as an alter­native to EU membership? Options of shaping EU relations with the Eastern European states.” Chaired by Elmar Brok, MEP Chair of the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Dr. Katrin Böttger, Deputy Director of the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP), the five guest lecturers and 30 partic­i­pants with backgrounds in politics, admin­is­tration, science and society took part in an intense and constructive debate. The discussion focused on current public discourse on the Associ­ation Agreement with Ukraine. Although the question of the EU’s delay in signing the new agreement provoked supporting and opposing comments, all partic­i­pants agreed on the urgency of reforms in Ukraine. The general design of the European Neigh­bourhood Policy (ENP) was also reviewed and evaluated. Atten­dants observed a persisting deadlock between economic interests and values in European foreign policy. The partic­i­pants voiced strong support for the more-for-more approach currently promoted by the European Commission, as well as a differ­en­tiated treatment of the individual countries within the Eastern Partnership (EaP). Sectoral co-operation, stronger support and capacity-building for civil society and private economy, clear prior­ities when applying condi­tion­ality and freedom of travel for the citizens of ENP countries emerged as important recom­men­da­tions for decision makers in German and European politics.