PASOS report: EU, EaP should include public, civil society in European integration efforts
The European Union and the Eastern Partnership (EaP) must communicate openly and improve engagement of the public if democratic development and economic integration are to be sustained in the EaP countries, according to a Civil Society Forum report coordinated and edited by PASOS.
Because of the secretive way it conducts Association Agreement negotiations with the EaP countries, the EU has squandered an opportunity to show citizens the advantages of European integration, the report states.
The Eastern Partnership Roadmap to the Vilnius Summit charges that the EU’s tactics foster “a perception that European integration is an elite, bureaucratic endeavour; rather than an important project empowering citizens’ lives.”
“The talks and drafting process have been marked by “closed doors” to the general public and largely to civil society on the part of both the partner countries and the EU. This has meant there is a lack of understanding of the importance of the Association Agreements in bringing the partners closer to the values and standards promoted by the European Union and the clear benefits to their countries from closer European integration.”
The report serves as an interim assessment of efforts to integrate the EaP countries into Europe and covers the period from May 2012 – July 2013. Edited and coordinated by PASOS Executive Director Jeff Lovitt, the publication is the result of a partnership between the Civil Society Forum, PASOS, and the Regional Environmental Centre of Moldova.
It contains country-specific reports for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. The report was written ahead of the Novermber 2013 Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, and calls on those attending the event to use the gathering to reform EU processes.
“The Vilnius summit will indeed mark a new phase in relations with most of the partner countries with the EU, but all sides need now to recognise that any sustainable integration must include deep democratic change, and that must include inclusion of independent experts, civil society and the wider public in policy debates,” according to the report.
“The roadmap plotting the trajectory from the Vilnius summit to the 2015 Eastern Partnership summit scheduled to take place in Riga during the Latvia EU Council Presidency should make open government and participatory policymaking apply to every step and every stop along the way.”