The EU-RA Relations in 2016
In terms of relations with the European Union, 2016 for Armenia was a year of progress. Here we recall the main achievements made during the last year.
The Political Component
Since December 2015, the negotiations on the new framework of Armenia-EU agreement have been launched. On the political component of the agreement six phases of negotiations were carried out and now the negotiations over political component are completed.
The political part of the new agreement is not very different from the Association Agreement, which means that in the political sense the relations of the RA-EU have not really changed and the dialogue on all aspects is actively going on.
The Economic Component
In parallel to the political component, the negotiations on the economic component of the new framework agreement are also going on. In this process, the work is carried out in the direction of harmonization of relations with Armenia, a member of the EAEU. This component of the negotiation is the most difficult and time-consuming one, but according to some official sources, it is effectively promoted.
The new document should be based on the economic component of the Association Agreement - DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area), meanwhile taking into account the new realities. In particular, the new agreement does not imply cancelation of custom duties. At the same time it should be noted that according to official sources, 10 of formerly 12 destinations in the new document will still remain. Moreover, one or two areas will be added in order to make the document more coherent and comprehensive.
It is expected that after the coordination of the economic component in the spring of 2017 it will be possible to sign a new framework agreement between Armenia and the EU, which will replace the current agreement on partnership and cooperation.
The results of the implementation of agreements on simplification of visa and return of illegally residing persons (readmission) were summarised in 2016. As a result, Armenia was awarded the highest praise by the European Union. Based on that, right now negotiations are going on with the EU on the liberalization of visas for Armenia.
As part of the free sky policy proclaimed by Armenia, at the end of 2016 the European Commission has granted a mandate to start negotiations with Armenia on entering the EU single aviation space. It is expected that the negotiations can be completed within a few months. Thanks to the agreement, European carriers will be able not only to transport goods and passengers from their countries to Armenia, but also from Armenia to third countries.
Education and Cultur
2016 was the start of the process of joining the initiative called "Creative Europe". This, in turn, made it possible to expand the scope of cultural exchange with the EU countries.
Armenia in 2016 signed the Horizon 2020 program for research and innovation. Yerevan announced the launch of a "European Union for innovation" initiative.
During this year in all the regions of Armenia Euroclubs were founded, the basic idea of which is to provide the youth with information about Europe and European values, as well as give them an opportunity to participate in different dialogues.
Armenia and the European Union have begun consultations to ascertain the priorities of cooperation in 2017-2020 respectively.
The EU has financially supported Armenia both on behalf of individual EU member states and on behalf of the union. A decision was made to provide 23 million euros for the development of business in Armenia for 2016-2020. EU mission in Armenia has provided € 2 million to the Armenian General Benevolent Union, within the framework of a civil society support program. The European Investment Bank has provided the Central Bank of Armenia the second loan of EUR 50 million for various programs concerning small, medium-sized businesses. And this is just a part of the EU financial support.
Summing up the dynamics of the RA-EU relations in 2016, we can fix that in some areas there was an active dialogue between the two sides which gave measurable results.
In 2013, after the membership to the EAEU, the EU shocked reaction is overcome, and today the parties find ways together to develop relations in the context of new realities.The RA is involved in the new EU programs, it continues its efforts to obtain the freedom of movement and new privileges. At the same time, the EU revised its approach of cooperation with partners in Eastern Partnership and is guided by the principle of greater flexibility and deepening cooperation where possible. The current negotiations between Armenia and the EU with their economic component are a clear manifestation of what has been said.
And if the new framework agreement is successfully signed, ratified and implemented, it will be the best manifestation of the "and-and’’ policy of Armenia.
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