Armenia is expecting to launch a visa liberalisation dialog with the EU, following the signature of a new partnership agreement, agreed in Brussels on Monday, February 27th. The news comes on the same day on which Armenia’s neighbour, Georgia received final approval of its visa-free travel to the EU.
In 2013 Armenia backed out from signing an Association Agreement with the EU and joined the Russia- led Eurasian Customs Union and is currently a member of its successor, the Eurasian Economic Union alongside Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
In Brussels this week Presidents of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and of the European Council Donald Tusk announced that the negotiations on the new Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement have been successfully concluded. The agreement is expected to be signed in May.
The new agreement
According to high ranking European diplomats the new EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement contains the main political and most of the economic provisions of the cancelled Association Agreement without its free trade-related components due to Armenia’s membership in the EEU, which makes participation in a free trade agreement with the EU impossible.
The new framework agreement will widen the scope of sectorial cooperation and will endorse provisions for Armenian participation in EU funded projects including Horizon 2020 – the EU research and innovation program, and COSME – assisting to small and medium enterprises.
EU also expects to deepen its relations with Armenia in energy, transport and the environment, as well as in trade and investment.
The EU is already the biggest trade partner of Armenia and its biggest international donor. The EU financial assistance to Armenia amounts to €140-170 million in grants for the period 2014-2017 and is primarily focused on private sector development and reforms of the public administration and the judiciary.
Focus on reforms and the elections