EU and Eastern partner countries strengthen cooperation
The Eastern Partnership Summit, which was held in Brussels on Friday 24 November, agreed on a joint declaration in which the EU Member States and the six Eastern European partner countries commit to strengthening the cooperation. The partner countries will continue their reforms related to public administration and the economy, and the EU Member States pledge their support for them.
“Carrying out the reforms requires hard work – and strong support from our part,” said Prime Minister Juha Sipilä.
“Our Partnership is based on making changes that will improve the daily lives of our citizens. Stability, prosperity and democracy are our shared goals. The Partnership brings concrete benefits for EU citizens because it improves stability in our neighbouring areas and opens up business opportunities,” Prime Minister Sipilä said.
“We can be proud of the achievements reached during the first nine years of the Eastern Partnership. They include, among other things, Association Agreements together with their sections on free trade, Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 student and researcher exchange programmes as well as visa free regimes with three partner countries,” Prime Minister Sipilä noted.
A new Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Armenia was also signed at the summit.
The Eastern partner countries of the EU are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.
Prime Minister Sipilä met the heads of state of Ukraine, Georgia and France
In connection with the summit, Prime Minister Sipilä had also meetings with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and France’s Prime Minister Édouard Philippe.
“In my discussions with President Poroshenko I noted that lifting the European Union’s sanctions on Russia is tied to the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Unfortunately, the implementation of the Minsk agreement is not advancing. I emphasised the significance of the reforms for Ukraine’s development, especially the importance of tackling corruption. I also told about Finland’s project support to the education sector,” Prime Minister Sipilä said.
In the discussions, Prime Minister Sipilä confirmed Finland’s support to the territorial cohesion and integrity of both Ukraine and Georgia.
Georgia has implemented reforms rapidly. Prime Minister Sipilä encouraged Georgia to continue the reforms and confirmed Finland’s support to them.
At the meeting with the French premier, the central themes of discussion were the EU’s defence cooperation and the cooperation between Finland and France in the use of artificial intelligence in the EU.
“France and Finland agree that in the European Union’s reform, we need to focus on responding to our citizens’ concerns. We must also foster unity in the EU and make sure that we respect our common regulations and values,” Prime Minister Sipilä said.
France commended Finland for the UNIFIL cooperation in Lebanon.
Inquiries: Kare Halonen, State Secretary, EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 319, Jani Raappana, Special Adviser (international affairs), tel. +358 50 566 7889 and Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 0733, Prime Minister’s Office