Is the Eastern Partnership About to Wither?
With the Eastern Partnership turning 10 last year, experts have been debating the future of the program that was designed to bring Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine closer to the EU. In “Eastern European Futures: Four Scenarios for the Eastern Partnership 2030,” Wojciech Przybylski of Visegrad Insight and Joerg Forbrig of the German Marshall Fund suggest four possible pathways for the region.
In the best-case scenario, Eastern Partnership countries see an increase in foreign direct investment and trade but they remain without a serious EU membership perspective. The second scenario sees Russia benefitting from strategic investment in Eastern Partnership countries, while the EU and NATO are weakened by a series of crises and Eurosceptic forces. This could tempt Eastern Partnership countries to accept greater dependency on Russia.
In the third scenario, the EU re-orients itself towards Russia, worried by growing Chinese influence and a United States that focuses elsewhere. According to Przybylski and Forbrig, this could subject the Eastern partners to a second-class status, resulting in a new period of instability in the region. In the fourth and last scenario, people in the Eastern Partnership countries drive the agenda for greater prosperity and social change themselves. A combination of these four scenarios might very well be possible, suggest the authors.