Democracy without institutions

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 
 © Photo by Natalya Letunova on Unsplash

By Dragan Koprivica | Podgorica

What are the accomplishments of the European integration process in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia? Despite being at different stages, the process has still not been able to sufficiently affirm the constitutional commitment of the tripartite division of powers in these states and bring about an equal balance between them. Respect for this commitment is of fundamental importance for the operation of both the political and the overall social system.

EaP: Looking beyond 2020

Eastern Partnership 10th anniversary © Photo by Council of the European Union

By Daniel Szeligowski | Warsaw

It has already been 10 years since the Polish-Swedish Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative was launched in Prague in May 2009. Since then, the EU has strengthened its relations with all six EaP countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Three of them – Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine – have signed Association Agreements (AA) with the EU, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTA), and have been granted visa-free regimes. Armenia, which initially withdrew from signing the AA, has concluded a new, less ambitious bilateral treaty: a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement. Azerbaijan has started negotiations on a new framework agreement with the EU. Finally, bilateral talks on EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities have been launched. The EU is now the biggest trade partner for five out of the six EaP countries, and is the second biggest trade partner for Belarus only after the Russian Federation.

Rule of law after a decade of Eastern Partnership. Let’s talk political change!

© Photo by Billion Photos on Shutterstock

By Corina Rebegea|Washington D.C.

The European Union’s Eastern Partnership Program (EaP) has just turned 10. There were celebrations, but also less congratulatory assessments of how far the six countries have actually gone in their democratic and economic development as a result of this framework. According to the less optimistic evaluations of the EaP’s success, the mechanisms and leverage employed by the EU are insufficient or inadequate to sustain long-lasting reforms, in particular when it comes to the important areas of rule of law and anticorruption agenda. This has caused many analysts to question the true impact of the EU’s involvement in domestic reform processes.

Beyond a DNA on steroids?

© Photo by Billion Photos on Shutterstock

By Sidonia Bogdan | Bucharest

Anti-graft efforts are a must for all EU states and Romania has achieved remarkable progress in its fight against this scourge. Nonetheless, it has been a bumpy ride and Romania can become a textbook example of how hard it can be to implement such a strategy at state level. Strengthening institutions, steadily promoting uncompromised magistrates in key positions, fighting back against political pressure on the judiciary and a keen eye for always respecting human rights are vital elements for the health of this process.

New European leadership

Ms. Ursula von der Leyen.  © Photo by Council of the European Union

by Ana-Maria Luca and Octavian Manea

The outcome of the latest round of Euro-elections (May 2019) was instrumental in the reconfiguration of the European leadership. For the first time in 40 years the European People’s Party (EPP) and the group of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) did not win enough seats to form a comfortable majority. The new political circumstances made the election of the Spitzenkandidat impossible.

Eastern Focus, Summer Issue: EUROPE still unwhole and unfree

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Exactly thirty years ago, shortly before the fall of the Iron Curtain, the late president George H.W. Bush was urging German citizens and political leaders (including chancellor Helmut Kohl) gathered in Mainz, on May 31, to build a ‘Europe Whole and Free’.

Fast forward to mid-2019, when the new EU leadership takes office after elections to the European Parliament, and Europe is still neither whole, nor free. This issue of EasternFocus focuses on the Union’s ability to continue to nurture democracy and rule of law within its own borders and to help engender it in its neighbourhood.