Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

Developing Trade and Trade Policy Relations with the European Union. Experience of Visegrád Countries and Implications/Lessons for Eastern Partners

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

Developing Trade and Trade Policy Relations with the European Union. Experience of Visegrád Countries and Implications/Lessons for Eastern Partners

Article excerpt

Abstract: The trade cooperation between the Eastern Partnership countries and the European Union has faced significant setbacks in recent years. Because the EU is basing its cooperation with the EaP countries on similar Agreements to those concluded with the Visegrád Four; the lessons learned from the integration of the Visegrád countries can help the eastern neighbours in their relations with the EU. The perspective of full membership, yearly evaluations and recommendations and the support of a dedicated financial instrument were the main sources that fuelled Poland's and Hungary's successful integration process. Thus, the lack of a full membership perspective weighs heavily on the cooperation between EU and the EaP countries, while the current situation in Ukraine also called the Eastern Partnership into question. Even though the Republic of Moldova and Georgia seem to favour European integration, Azerbaijan finds itself in an interesting position that allows it to be independent of the two powers EU and Russia. The lack of incentives offered by the EU in the trade negotiations may lead to the strengthening of the relations between the EaP countries and Russia.

Keywords: European Union, trade policy, Visegrád Four, Eastern Partnership

Developing Trade and Trade Policy Relations with the European Union. Experience of Visegrád Countries and Implications/Lessons for Eastern Partners, East European Studies, No. 5,2014, MTA Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Institute of World Economics, Budapest

The current political situation in Ukraine put the question of the Eastern neighbouring countries, the so called Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries on the agenda of the European Union again. The events in Ukraine show the dubious situation of these former Soviet countries rooted in their past strong relationship with Russia, heading for western markets and integration with Europe. The current forms of cooperation possibilities offered by the European Union might not be sufficient to convince these countries to make a final decision about breaking their formal ties with Russia, taking all the risks of economic and eventually military sanctions. This volume of the Institute of World Economics is mainly dealing with trade and economy related questions but also draws political conclusions for the countries of the region and for the European Union.

The bilateral cooperation with the countries of the EaP region is built upon similar Agreements to those formerly concluded with Eastern European countries in the 1990's. That is why experience and lessons learnt by the Visegrád countries can be useful for their Eastern neighbours during their preparation for the potential joining of the European single market. The volume not only focuses on similarities but also on differences of the distinct types of Agreements as well as on the very diverse economic and political situation of the countries in the EaP region.

Starting with a general overview on the development of EU's trade policy, Tamás Szigetvári - also editor of the publication - describes various forms of trade relations and related types of Agreements. The enlargement with the Eastern-European countries resulted in new frontiers and new neighbouring countries on the eastern borders, which explained the need for a stronger commitment of the EU. Support of free trade agreements, visa liberalisation, energy security are important fields of the cooperation, while a long-term objective would be the establishment of a network of Free Trade Agreements that could become a Neighbourhood Economic Community in the future.

The new programs and initiatives were also reflected in the new types of agreements. The Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCA) from the 1990's - which were concluded with former Soviet republics - were planned to be substituted by the so called Association Agreements (AA). These new Agreements consist of four different parts: Political Dialogue and Foreign and Security Policy; Justice, Freedom and Security; Economic and Sectoral cooperation; Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTA). …

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