The Associated Trio:
Enhancing Cooperation for
Peace, Democracy and Prosperity

In December 2019, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova – the three EaP countries with an association agreement with the EU – signed a joint statement, submitted to EU High Representative. In the statement, they advocated a new EU+3 format, enabling sectoral integration in transport, energy and other fields, as well as full access to the four freedoms of the EU – free movement of goods, services, capital and persons to help them progress faster on their path to European integration.

The format was welcomed by the Central and Eastern Europe countries and it also found endorsement in the European Parliament. However, a clear political will to endorse such an initiative from the EU institutions and their leadership is still being looked for. Fortunately, considering the latest developments on the Eastern frontier of the European continent, Brussels is becoming increasingly aware that it will be very difficult to ignore the differences between EaP countries’ European aspirations and capacity to pursue EU integration.

During our virtual panel we brought together the perspectives from Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia to discuss how Brussels could build practically on the success of the Association Agreements signed in 2016 and 2017. While this step undoubtedly encouraged the Trio nations to draw closer to the bloc, the European Union cannot rest on this accomplishment. Instead, concrete steps such as formally recognising the Associated Trio as a distinct grouping within the EaP, as well as reconsidering proposals to pursue integration on a sector by sector basis with enhanced economic integration, would demonstrate the commitment of the European Union and lead to a watershed moment to push for a more visionary policy on the European continent.

We thank IVAN STEFANEC MEPGENADI ARVELADZE, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia; VLADIMIR CUC, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova; TARAS KACHKA, Deputy Economy Minister and Trade Representative of Ukraine; IULIU WINKLER MEPLUKAS MANDL MEP; TEONA LAVRELASHVILI, Project manager of the European Party Monitor; AGATA BOUTANOS, Head of Brussels Office with the Union of Entrepreneurs & Employers (ZPP); DAMIR FILIPOVICEuropan Enterprise Alliance Secretary General; DR. HORST HEITZChair of the Steering Committee with SME Connect; MICHAEL JÄGERCEO of the European Economic Senate; and MARCO TOSONPresident of the Confindustria Ucraina for being part of this insightfuld debate and TUDOR PETRU FABIAN, Coordinator of the Working Group on Trade with SME Europe of the EPP for moderation.