The Commission published on 12 May 2010 the so-called neighbourhood package, consisting of an overall assessment of five years of implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), 12 country reports on developments in 2009, including one on Armenia, and a sector report.
In 2009 Armenia made progress in several areas of the ENP Action Plan, launched a regular human rights dialogue with the EU, improved the legislative framework in the area of anticorruption and strengthened the role of the Human Rights Defender. It also took positive steps to address the internal political crisis following the aftermath of the Presidential elections in February 2008, including the Amnesty issued in June, the amendments to the Criminal Code and the publication of the report by the Parliamentary Ad Hoc Inquiry Committee.
In 2010 Armenia should make further efforts to ensure thorough follow-up of the recommendations of the report by the Ad hoc Parliamentary Inquiry Committee on the events of March 2008, improve electoral standards and strengthen media freedom. Of key importance will be further reforms in the justice sector and the area of the rule of law, notably the independence of judiciary, the reform of the Prosecutor’s office and proper implementation of adopted legislation in all areas. Enhanced dialogue between the ruling political forces and the opposition would contribute to the democratic development of the country.
Negotiating directives for a future Association Agreement were adopted by the EU on 10 May 2010.
Political dialogue and governance, including CFSP
- Armenia took a major step in regional cooperation and dialogue with Turkey, resulting in the historic signature of the two protocols on the establishment and development of bilateral relations in October 2009. Armenia suspended the ratification procedure of the two protocols in April 2010. The EU was pleased to note Armenia’s continued commitment to pursue the process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations but at the same time expressed concern about the loss of momentum in this process.
- Armenia widely aligned itself with EU’s Common Foreign Security Policy declarations (108 out of 138 in 2009) and is generally very active in cooperating on CFSP-related issues.
- The dialogue for negotiating a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict intensified considerably at the highest level in 2009.
Economic integration and trade
- Economic activity which had started to fall in the last quarter of 2008 contracted by around 15.4% in 2009 due to the global economic downturn and particularly the rapid deterioration of the Russian economy.
- Armenia reached an agreement with the IMF for a € 553 million Stand-by Arrangement while securing additional funding from other donors, including the EU and a € 350 million stabilisation loan from Russia. The EU decided to grant Macro-Financial Assistance, composed of € 65 million loan and a € 35 million grant.
- As a result of the crisis the Armenian government had to temporarily suspend the Sustainable Development Programme on poverty reduction. The introduction of the new pension system was postponed to 2011.
- As a result of the global slow-down, EU exports to Armenia declined by 20.6%, while exports of Armenian products to the EU decreased by 49.3% in 2009. The EU is by large Armenia’s main trading partner with 35.3 % share in its overall external trade (2008).
- Armenia benefits from the EU Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) for the years 2009-2011.
- After a fact-finding in February, the EC established a detailed assessment of Armenia’s preparedness for a future EU-Armenia Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). The negotiations will start once the necessary conditions have been met.
Promoting mobility, fighting irregular migration
- Within the Eastern Partnership, the Commission wants to further improve the mobility of bona fide business people, tourists, students and academics and intends to propose launching negotiations on Visa facilitation and readmission agreements, when conditions are met. Improvement of document security is considered as a necessary step for Armenia to benefit from visa facilitation with the EU.
- In the area of police and judicial cooperation Armenia ratified the 1997 Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters in March 2009.
Sector cooperation – examples
- Transport: The working arrangement with the European Aviation Safety Agency was signed in July 2009 to strengthen regulatory cooperation and progress towards convergence with European safety standards.
- Environment: The Regional Environmental Centre for Caucasus (REC) was consolidated both financially and in terms of internal organisation. It promotes capacity building and cooperation between various stakeholders.
- Research: Armenia’s participation in the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) has increased in comparison to FP6, with 17 research organisations being successful in their applications, receiving € 690,000 of EU funding as of November 2009,.
- Education: In 2007-2009, thanks to Erasmus Mundus grants 137 Armenian students and academics could pursue studies in EU universities for up to three years.
EU–Armenia – BACKGROUND
The European Neighbourhood Policy governs the relations between the EU and Armenia. In 2009 the EU launched the Eastern Partnership, the Eastern dimension of the ENP framework, aiming atsubstantially upgrading engagement with the six Eastern neighbours via:
– Bilateral track, whose objectives include the establishing of Association Agreements with Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas, once conditions have been met, as well as progress on visa and mobility issues
– Multilateral track (i.e. intergovernmental platforms and Flagship Initiatives).
This approach allows for gradual political association and deeper economic integration.
FACTS AND FIGURES
1999: EU-Armenia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement entered into force.
2006: EU-Armenia Action Plan was approved
2009: EU Advisory Group to Armenia (financed by the EU) started its activities with the aim of supporting the Armenian authorities in the implementation of the key areas of the ENP Action Plan
2009: Neighbourhood Investment Facility committed € 14.6 million in grants and technical assistance for two projects in the transport sector. Armenia is also eligible for three regional projects, committing €24 million in the energy and financial sectors
2007-2010: The ENPI1 envelope for Armenia stands at € 98.4 million
2011-2013: An indicative ENPI envelope of € 157.3 million announced by the Commission