Why the Eastern Partnership Summit matters: turning policy into impact

November 29, 2021

  • What is the significance of the EaP Summit: does it make a difference to people?
  • What are the EU’s priorities for the December Summit? What targets has it set for the years ahead?
  • What were the results of the previous Summit? Did the EaP meet the targets it had set?
  • How do these investments actually reach people?
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What is the significance of the EaP Summit: does it make a difference to people?

Since 2009, the Eastern Partnership (EaP) has worked to strengthen political and economic relations between the European Union, its Member States and six Eastern European and South Caucasus partner countries: ArmeniaAzerbaijanBelarusGeorgiathe Republic of Moldova and Ukraine

EaP Summits take place every two years, bringing together heads of state or government, and provide the political direction to guide the partnership, setting the priorities for cooperation in the years ahead. 

Why does this matter? Because the policy priorities decided at EaP summits translate into EU support, into funding for cooperation in areas ranging from jobs to energy, environment to health, digital connection to justice reform, transport connections to youth empowerment. 

The results of those summits can make a real difference: they can mean cheaper air fares or roaming costs, study opportunities and jobs, gender opportunities and a more inclusive society, cleaner water and access to COVID vaccines, support for innovation or skills to meet the economic challenges of tomorrow.

The decisions taken and the directions agreed at the 6th EaP Summit in December 2021 will make a difference to your lives in the years to come. 

One way or another, you will feel the changes as the EU works with national and local authorities to meet the targets agreed at the summit: the difference could be in your electricity bill, reduced through energy efficiency measures, it could be in the form of your next job, created because a local business was able to borrow money to expand, or obtained through the skills you have learned as part of new training programme, it could be in the roads and railways, modernised with EU support, or the improved broadband quality available in your region, transforming your ability to study, do business or access everyday online services.

What are the EU’s priorities for the December Summit? What targets has it set for the years ahead?

The December Summit will focus on support for five key areas – economy, governance, the environment, digital and societyThese priorities build on the past achievements of the Eastern Partnership, taking into account new challenges and opportunities – notably the green and digital transition, as well as the post-pandemic recovery.

Recovery, resilience and reform are the key building blocks of this future agenda, which includes the following top 10 targets to be achieved by 2025:

  1. 500,000 SMEs supported
  2. All high-level officials declare their economic assets and these declarations are verified
  3. 3,000 km of priority roads and railways are built or upgraded
  4. 70,000 individual exchange opportunities for students and staff, researchers, young people and youth workers
  5. identifying and addressing hybrid threats; increased cyber resilience and tackling cyber crime
  6. 250,000 households reduce their energy consumption by at least 20%
  7. 3 million people gain access to safe water services; air quality monitored and improved in 300 cities
  8. 850,000 health workers vaccinated and benefit from improved therapeutics, equipment and working conditions
  9. 2,500 local civil society organisations, 120 independent media outlets and 2,000 journalists supported
  10. 80% of households have affordable access to high-speed internet.

In addition, backed up by a €2.3 billion Economic and Investment Plan, the EU has set out a set of ambitious initiatives for each of the partner countries, with concrete priority projects delivering tangible results that will make a difference to people and businesses on the ground. These investments will focus on transport connectivity, small business support, the digital transition, investment in environment and climate resilience (including energy efficiency), health resilience and education reforms.

What were the results of the previous Summit? Did the EaP meet the targets it had set?

In 2017, the Eastern Partnership Summit set itself ‘20 Deliverables for 2020’ as an ambitious work plan for reforms that would bring tangible benefits for citizens. Three years later, the results were there to see.

For example:

The EU supported over 185,000 small businesses – like the Ukrainian manufacturer of orthopaedic and medical products who was able to invest in specialised equipment thanks to an EU4Business loan, ramping up its production, creating new jobs, and opening export markets in Belarus, Poland and Estonia. EU support to SMEs has helped to create or sustain 1.65 million jobs across the region.

More than €60 million was allocated to almost 7,250 women-led SMEs, and 290 women entrepreneurs received training through the EU4Business initiative in 2018 alone – like the woman-led Tech Engineering Group in Georgia, which increased in profits by 7.5% thanks to support from the EU’s Women in Business programme.

With EU support, 187 Local Authorities committed to cutting CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020, and 240 have committed to cutting emissions by 30% by 2030 – like the Moldovan cities of Ocnița and Cantemir that have cut energy consumption and emissions through smart energy-efficient street lighting.

EU support has promoted modern water policy at river-basin level, covering 500,000km2 and affecting more than 30 million people across the region – supporting cleaner water in places like Armenia’s Sevan basin and Azerbaijan’s Absheron Peninsula.

The EU has supported young people with over 80,000 exchanges including through Erasmus+,  while the European School in Tbilisi has been operational since September 2018, providing high quality education to talented young people from all six Eastern partner countries, such as Alina from Baku, Yeva from Kharkiv, Lilit and Nane from Armenia, Nino and Luka from Georgia, Adrian from Moldova, and Alina from Belarus.

These are just a handful of examples of how the Eastern Partnership has delivered tangible results to citizens across the region, in line with the 20 Deliverables for 2020 set at the 2017 Summit.

Click below to find out more about the impact of EU support in your country:

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine.

How do these investments actually reach people?

EU support is channelled through hundreds of projects and programmes, ranging from major regional initiatives – like EU4Business, EU4Youth or EU4Energy – to the smallest local projects providing direct support to individuals in remote areas of your country.

These projects work on the ground with national and local authorities, with economic partners, civil society and NGOs to implement the actions and reforms agreed with national governments.

The EU also works closely with European Financial Institutions like the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as well with the development partners from EU Members States through the Team Europe approach, thus multiplying the range and ultimate impact of its support.

You can find out more on how EU support works in key areas, the difference that it makes and the opportunities that are available to you, by reading our interactive explainers:

Support for women entrepreneurs

How to help your business recover after COVID

How businesses can benefit from becoming greener


Eastern Partnership European School

Funding for research and innovation

EU support for the environment

What is EU4Energy and how it can help 

And click here to stay fully up to date with all EU-funded opportunities.

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This website is managed by the EU-funded Regional Communication Programme for the Eastern Neighbourhood ('EU NEIGHBOURS east’), which complements and supports the communication of the Delegations of the European Union in the Eastern partner countries, and works under the guidance of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, and the European External Action Service. EU NEIGHBOURS east is implemented by a B&S Europe-led consortium. It is part of the larger Neighbourhood Communication Programme (2020-2024) for the EU's Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood, which also includes 'EU NEIGHBOURS south’ project that runs the EU Neighbours portal.

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