ies between the European Union (EU) and Armenia have been developing steadily since the early 1990s, with a visible strengthening of cooperation following the adoption of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Action Plan in November 2006. EU-Armenian relations are underpinned by shared respect for democracy, market economy, principles of international law and human rights, which are outlined in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).
Armenia benefits from Tempus and Erasmus Mundus, two major EU-funded programmes which boost students’ mobility and help partner countries achieve greater compatibility of their higher education systems with that of the EU. Since 1995, Tempus has supported over 40 projects in Armenia in the field of university management and curriculum development, covering a range of disciplines from medical sciences and environmental studies to technology, tourism and humanities. Armenian students actively participate in the Erasmus Mundus Masters courses. A Jean Monnet interdisciplinary module was awarded to Yerevan State University focusing on EU-Caucasus relations.
The EU and Armenia strive to develop a partnership for reform, focusing on priority areas where the EU provides increased support to Armenia’s reform process through its tools and instruments. The EU and Armenia are engaged in negotiations on an Association Agreement, which will be the successor agreement to the PCA. The Association Agreement will significantly deepen Armenia’s political association and economic integration with the EU. The EU and Armenia also aim to establish a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), when the relevant conditions for starting negotiations are met. The EU provides targeted assistance to Armenia through budget support and the Comprehensive Institution Building (CIB) programme to the tune of €32 million over the period 20112013. It also puts in place the EU Advisory Group to assist the Armenian authorities in the preparation of a process to negotiate, conclude and implement an Association Agreement with the European Union, including setting up a DCFTA.
The Eastern Partnership In May 2009, the EU and its 6 Eastern partners, including Armenia, launched the Eastern Partnership (EaP), a long‑term ambitious policy which aims to support wide‑ranging political and socio-economic reforms in these countries and to bring them closer to the EU. The EaP is based on shared values: democracy, rule of law, good governance, human rights, market economy and sustainable development. The EaP consists of a bilateral and a multilateral track. On a bilateral level, the EaP notably offers:
• The prospect of a new generation of wide ranging Association Agreements;
• Far-reaching integration into the EU economy with deep free trade agreements;
• Easier travel through gradual visa liberalisation and measures to tackle illegal immigration;
• Enhanced energy security arrangements; • Increased financial assistance.
How EU assistance works Armenia benefits from various financial instruments developed by the EU to implement effectively its programmes with the Neighbouring countries. The key one is the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), launched in January 2007 to implement agreements under the ENP. The ENPI provides support to 17 countries including Armenia. With a budget of €12 billion for 2007-2013, the ENPI replaces previous assistance programmes, TACIS for the Eastern Neighbours and MEDA in the South. Some of the main cooperation mechanisms and programmes are: Twinning – based on partnership cooperation between the public administrations of EU Member States and Armenia, to help the country acquire the necessary skills and experience to move toward EU legislation. Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) – offering short term assistance and advice to partner countries in the implementation of their ENP Action Plans. Support to Improvement in Governance and Management (SIGMA) – strengthening public management in areas of administrative reform, public procurement, public sector ethics, anti-corruption and financial control. Sector Policy Support Programme (SPSP) - an instrument assisting the Government of Armenia to implement state sector policies. European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) – supporting liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, this instrument is designed to help civil society to become an effective force for political reform and defence of human rights. Non-state actors and local authorities in development – encouraging non-state actors and local authorities, both from the EU and in developing countries, to get more involved in development issues. Instrument for Stability (IfS) - providing an effective, timely, flexible and integrated response to crises, emerging crises or continued political instability. Erasmus Mundus – promoting cooperation between higher education institutions through encouraging partnerships, mobility and exchanges of students, researchers and academic staff. Tempus – supporting modernisation of higher education, creates opportunities for cooperation among actors in the education field. Environment and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources thematic programme including Energy (ENRTP) - addressing environmental and natural resource management issues.
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EU Advisory Group The EU Advisory Group (EUAG) provides tailored policy advice on legal, democratic, economic and institutional issues to the Armenian Presidency, National Assembly, Government and the Human Rights Defender. Project partners also include civil society organisations. The EUAG supports the Armenian authorities in the preparation of a process to negotiate, conclude and implement an Association Agreement with the EU, which includes setting up a DCFTA, as well as Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements with the EU. The Group further supports Armenia by facilitating the effective use of EU Technical Assistance, in particular the Comprehensive Institution Building (CIB) programme, TAIEX and Twinning.
Key areas of EUAG policy advice are: Supporting reforms in the field of Justice, Liberty and Security (JLS); Strengthening respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and enhancing democratic structures; Reform strategy of trade-related legal and institutional structures, with a view to enhancing Armenia’s competitiveness and improve its access and entry to the EU and other international markets.
The Group brings together European experts who provide high-level policy advice in the fields of economic reform and trade, including customs, good governance, democracy, human rights and JLS, thus providing direct access for the Armenian public administration and civil society actors to the EU know-how, reform experiences and best practices. The EUAG has provided tailor-made policy advice, resulting in deeper integration for both Armenia’s legislative and executive in EU political structures, giving them the unique opportunity to have their own voice in the EU’s high-level political forums. Armenian political parties have also benefited from the EU Advisory Group in terms of integration into their respective EU political families.
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Published on Dec 18, 2012