REGIONAL COOPERATION WITHIN THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP
Keywords:European Union (EU), Eastern Partnership (EaP), European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), regional cooperation, Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA).
Development of regional cooperation is of utmost importance to the functioning of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). It is especially significant across the EU’s external borders and among the EU’s neighbors themselves, specially that are geographically close to each other. The idea behind the ENP and its Eastern dimension provides the partner countries with two options: first - an alternative to the EU’s membership through offering the countries comprehensive and deep economic and political cooperation, second - the membership perspective through engaging the partners in a long-run economic, social and political reforms. Therefore the aim of the EU’s commitment was to bring, on the one hand, economic and social benefits to the partner countries, and on the other, protect interests and maintain stabilization at the EU’s external frontiers.
The current level of regional collaboration shows that the EU’s strategy relying on political dialogue and economic assistance has not been sufficient incentive to change the countries within the Eastern Partnership (EaP). However the progress cannot be excluded. Enhancing of regional cooperation might lead to increase social cohesion and stability which is then the crucial prerequisite for closer political association and economic integration with the EU. Therefore the aim of the paper is to present and analyze the problem of cooperation between the Eastern partners of ENP. Major question is whether the initiative has contributed to improve cooperation among the partners and if it has what tangible progress has it brought to the benefits of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and the EU itself?