The European Commission has proposed new, long-term Eastern Partnership policy objectives for beyond 2020.

"Today, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have put forward a proposal for the long-term policy objectives of the Eastern Partnership beyond 2020," they said in an official statement on March 18. "These aim at increasing trade, strengthening connectivity and deepening economic integration with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, strengthening democratic institutions, the rule of law, environmental and climate resilience, supporting the digital transformation, and promoting fair and inclusive societies."

The Commission and the European External Action Service expect the Member States and partner countries to endorse the proposal in view of the Eastern Partnership Summit in June 2020, which will give a mandate to develop a new set of tangible deliverables building on the current 20 Deliverables for 2020.

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"Our neighbours' strength is also the European Union's strength; the Eastern Partnership remains a crucial element of the EU's foreign policy. Our proposals will further strengthen our six partner countries, reflecting the priorities and challenges that we share, while maintaining the emphasis on delivering tangible, positive results for all citizens," High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said.

"We are sending a very clear message to our Eastern partner countries: we will help you to build strong economies and to create growth and jobs by attracting foreign direct investment and by strengthening connectivity in key sectors, such as transport, energy and environment. We will work closely together to address today's challenges across the board, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said in turn.

As UNIAN reported earlier, France rejects proposals that the European Union's initiative regarding the six countries of Eastern Europe, known as the Eastern Partnership, may contribute to the likelihood of future membership of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus in the European Union. Diplomats say France does not want to disappoint Moscow and proposes 50% of the Eastern Partnership program's budget be funneled into environmental protection efforts.

The Eastern Partnership was launched in 2009 with the aim to strengthening and deepening the political and economic relations between the EU, its Member States and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine. The Partnership has developed according to the interests, ambitions and progress of each partner, allowing for differentiation, but in a flexible and inclusive way to tackle common and global challenges jointly and foster regional integration. Current policy objectives were defined through agenda 20 Deliverables for 2020, agreed in 2017.