Following Eastern Partnership leaders’ video conference on 18 June, EU leaders identified five long-term goals for the Eastern Partnership policy, which should be approved at a physical summit in March 2021.
First priority: an economy-focused partnership that creates jobs, contacts between countries, and opportunities for youth.
The second is the strengthening of state institutions, respect for human rights, gender equality, and the rule of law.
The third priority is called the “partnership that unites” – digital transformation. The EU will work with partners to modernize the necessary infrastructure.
The fourth priority is sustainability, including climate change and the corresponding response to it.
Fifth, the European Commission will continue to inform about the tangible results that citizens of the EaP countries receive from cooperation with the EU.
StrategEast has interviewed experts from Eastern Partner countries on top priorities of cooperation with the EU. Here are the answers from Armenia.
In which of these areas the most tangible results of cooperation with the EU and your country can be observed at the moment? Are there any priorities for your country that were not mentioned at the videoconference of the EaP leaders?
Eastern Partnership leaders’ video conference on 18 June proved once again that partnership goals beyond 2020 have significantly widened and what is more important it’s now offering greater avenues for integration.
Before the live summit due in 2021 it is important to consider various options that might better reflect the interests of both EU and EaP countries. As pandemic intervened it has accelerated the importance of linkages, be they institutional, socio-economic, or political ties deeper. From this perspective, from all the main goals showcased during the video conference the third priority takes precedence as it’s focused on digital transformation and can foster deeper connectivity projects, even in the case of impossibility of people to people live contacts. It plays also vital role for the Republic of Armenia. Taking into account that the pandemic had strongly hit the Armenian society and its health system, (especially after the gradual resumption of the economic activities when the number of infected people increased significantly creating additional pressure on the health system) the modernization of technologies, high-quality infrastructure, and services are the key factors that can have a real impact on the lives of people not only in Armenia but also across the region. Therefore, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, initiatives such as the EU4Digital and the EaPConnect become more important.
The European Union’s EU4Digital Initiative supports the digital reform agenda in Armenia with a range of actions to promote key areas of the digital economy and society in line with EU practices. It’s one of the essential cooperation for Armenia in the field of e-government and digitization, and strengthens EU-Armenia cooperation, with a focus on Telecom Rules, Trust and Security, e-Trade, ICT Innovation, e-Health, and e-Skills. The outcomes of the initiative result in improved online services for Armenian citizens, at better prices, and with greater choice, attracting investments, boosting trade and employment, as well as strengthening cooperation with EU member states and within the Eastern Partnership.
The EaP Connect project in its turn decreases the digital divide and improves intra-regional connectivity by building productive human networks between its EaP partners, other national research and education networks (NREN), and e-infrastructures.
Besides that, it’s also crucial to carry out joint projects on the consolidation of the health systems and crisis management capacities. Joint projects can be initiated and implemented in the field of improving the infrastructure in the health sector, facilitating the flow of essential products, etc.
Thus, the EU-Armenia cooperation within the framework of digital cooperation together with other priorities highlighted during the videoconference of the EaP leaders can have a powerful transformative influence in Armenia and all partner countries and create linkages to building a common space, especially now that digital platforms have become one of the primary links in the fight against the pandemic.
Narine Petrosyan and Heghine Aleksanyan, analysts of the “Enlight” Public Research Center © All right reserved.
Original source: Strategeast