Statement of the Topic and Its Importance
European Union has become a major player in Eastern Europe in terms of economic, political and social activities. The role that European Union is playing in this region especially in Moldova and Belarus is very evidence with improved trades, relation policies and other economic activities.
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However, Russia also has a strong interest in this region and conducts a major influence on Moldova and Belarus as well. With its energy endowment, Russia has a lot influence on these two countries and is capable of influencing the direction of important decisions in these countries as well.
Both nations are therefore determined in building a strong relationship within the region in order to retain economic power and promote trade amongst them. In this contexts therefore, Moldova and Belarus are on the crossroad between the EU and Russia due to the equal opportunities in terms of trade, boarder management and visa management.
The implementation of EU policy in the Eastern Partnership is therefore not an easy process conducted in vacuum and to large extent it’s affected by Russia.
Aims and Objectives
- Explore the Eastern Partnership of EU for Moldova and Belarus and how the two countries are likely to benefit
- Understand the European neighborhood policy and how it impacts on Moldova and Belarus together with other eastern partners
- Enumerate the role and influence of Russian on Moldova and Belarus and how it affects the UN policy in the neighborhood and further relate these influences to the implementation of the UN Policy.
European Union promises a lot of benefits to Moldova and Belarus in terms of visa facilitation, freedom in trade and in the management of their borders with regard to immigrants. However, EU policy in the Eastern Partnership is not an easy process conducted in vacuum and to large extent its implementation is affected by Russia strong influence on Moldova and Belarus.
Eastern Partnership of EU for Moldova and Belarus
Eastern partnership of the European Union includes countries in the eastern part of Europe with a vision to creating economic stability, security and prosperity. It also moves to reach other countries like the Moldova and Belarus so as they are brought closer to the principles and practices of European Union.
This has a number of benefits to these nations that range from integration into the EU economy, facilitation of visa, control of movements and border management of their member countries as well as provision of bargaining power1. All these in turn provide member countries with competitive advantage over the international rivals within the EU market.
The first policy that the European Union will have to offer for Eastern Partnership of EU for Moldova and Belarus is the foreign and security policy that is meant to control immigration between the borders of member nations. This policy sets out areas that need essential and immediate response in order to ensure that the borders of these nations are safe.
The commitment on this policy to ensure that there is elaborations on policy on immigrations matters have been raised in 1989 by the European community council. The policy defines a surveillance system for external frontiers, information sharing system for people who can not qualify for admission and general combating networks of immigrations that are illegal.
In this way European Union through this policy provides a platform for both Moldova and Belarus to gain a strong bargaining power in the world market and other international relations which is necessary for these two countries to comfortably handle challenges that are external with regard to trade provided that the challenge helps in advancing any member of EU’s policy or objective.
This is seen as an advantage to Moldova and Belarus as they will have a strong bargaining power economically in the international trades. However, European Union is currently experiencing a problem with how to integrate the EU borders to provide ways of handling the non member nations in the governance of EU.
Visa facilitation agreement came to force in the year 2008 for Moldova and it provides a greater level of understanding and corporation between the countries with reference to migration2. This agreement between the European Union and the republic of Moldova will be very beneficial to the nation because they will be able to control immigrants in a more integrated and systematic manner.
This will also help in combating illegal migrations as well as ensuring that the citizens of Moldova and Belarus received enhanced mobility facilities between their countries and the European Union. The visa facilitation has also improved the short term movement between Moldova and Belarus and other member nations and hence all the citizens will have opportunities to look for other available business opportunities outside their country.
Moldova and Belarus have received the highest allocation of funds between the year 2007 – 2010 from the European Union to boost its trade in the international market and help improve the economy in general for the benefit of the citizens of those two countries.
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This increase in the disbursement of funds to these countries has been due to economic crisis that has affected Eastern Europe especially Moldova and Belarus and their neighborhood.
The plans of EU to support Moldova further to increase its participation in the international trade and also to compliment with the IMF agreement is also another benefit. Some of these funds are also intended to increase the visa facilitation process as one avenue for reaching to other countries for trade.
Influence of Russia on Moldova and Belarus
The influence of Russian on the former Soviet nations is enormous and it continues to look at Moldova and Belarus and the other states it describe as the states of Caucus as part and parcel of its economic and political backyard. It has linked these nations to its strategic economic interest.
The regional policy of Russia consists of various strategies and instruments that for long time now have the objective of having Moldova and Belarus adopt and work within the framework of these policies. This is contrary to the European Union paths and policies. These instruments and policies that are used by Russia are against those of European Union and this is the major attempt to block the European Union in these countries3.
The major tools that can be identified with respect to maintaining their influence in Moldova and Belarus includes; their tactful use of energy as a monopoly tool to block other influences from the neighbors, their influence on domestic policy and their attempts to integrate the economy so as to gain competitive advantage over European Union.
The tactful use of energy as a monopoly tool to put influence on the neighboring countries is evident in Russia. This is because Russia being the largest producer of natural gas and oil, it has utilized this competitive advantage to impose pressure on the neighboring nations in Moldova and Belarus and other neighboring nations of the Eastern Europe.
Moldova and Belarus rely so much on Russia for the supply of fuel and gas at $5 cheaper cost and for them to continue enjoying this, they have to agree or accept certain policies with regard to Russia. This was evidenced when Russia decided to supply gas to the world market at different prices in the year 2006.
Russia for example was supplying one million liters of gas at $47 to Belarus and $110 to other parts of the world and other nations like Georgia. Other examples include the attempts by Russia to raise the price of gas in the world market in late 2006 in the attempt to manipulate the prices.
This manipulation of prices by Russian may continue as part of the strategies to reward or punish the neighboring countries’ behaviors including Moldova and Belarus.
European Union Neighborhood Policy
During the year 2004, European neighborhood policy was adopted by the European Union4. This policy was meant to develop certain kind of group of friends around the Union. This policy is very beneficial to the Moldova and Belarus since it offers so much freedom to these two countries.
It allows free movement of labor, people, goods and services for the members and hence has the capacity to enhance trade, prosperity and stability for the member country. This policy is therefore very good for Moldova and Belarus since it will ensure that these two nations receive equality and are protected from unfair competition that is coming from other rivals.
However, when the European neighborhood policy is looked at as a strategy for the nations in Eastern Europe such as the Moldova and Belarus, it has not met the high expectations of its members.
The members had high expectations of seeing this policy transform their individual interest and ensuring the economic stability of their nations. Even though the European commission has recognized the importance of this policy strategically beyond its borders, its success is still a challenge to many nations in Eastern Europe and many scholars have reported that it has a deficit.
The first weaknesses in this policy are that this policy combines the nations without considering the differences that exist between the regions in these countries. Agenda was mainly generated by the neighboring countries starting with the Ukraine. Other countries then followed including the Mediterranean countries.
This was however a strategy for the south towards the fear that the policies of the European Union could shift to the east and this could be very detrimental to them in terms of trade and economic stability and prosperity. This has lead to a lot of funds of up to 70% being allocated to the Mediterranean nations.
Many scientists have argued that this distribution does not portray the intended original incentive. From this point of argument therefore, Moldova and Belarus may not have a better and the integration that they are expected to get from the European Neighborhood policy.
Another aspect is that the European neighborhood policy is inflexible with respect to regional developments and other issues that are regional and when it attempts to reach Moldova and Belarus, it may not be very easy for them.
This is a drawback to this policy because the members are sometimes withdrawn from the membership program and is not desirable when looking at the original intension of this policy. This is therefore a threat despite the numerous ‘’goods’’ that Moldova and Belarus may derive from this.
Lack of harmonization of the European neighborhood policy and Russian policy is also another problem that is hindering the ability of the European Union to reach Moldova and Belarus5. The diversity in perceptions, interests and the actors in the in the European Union has a lot of effect on the prospects of the policy with regard to the Eastern European neighborhood.
Unless the policies are harmonized between Russia and the European Union, there would be no much achievements in this integration. Harmonization of policies here however may not be possible owing to the fact that Russia has conflicting and contrary interests compared to those of the European Union.
It is critically important for Russia and the European Union to reach a consensus and find a solution on the neighborhood that they share in common. It is only through this corporation that the new order which the European Union is seeking with Moldova and Belarus will be possible. This is because the European Union policy does not rhyme that of Russia and they are antagonistic to each other.
It is also evidence that Russia has a lot of influence in Moldova and Belarus and other Eastern European countries that is making it almost impossible for the European Union to reach to these countries together with others in the East.
It is therefore important to emphasize that EU policy in the Eastern Partnership is not an easy process conducted in vacuum and to large extent its implementation is affected by Russia through their competitive advantage in terms of energy supply in the region as it is the biggest supplier of natural gas in the world.
Bezen, BC & JC Demirtas, Neighborhood challenge, The European Union and its neighbours, Universal Publishers, Florida, 2009.
Commission of the European Communities, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the European Council, Eastern Partnership, Brussels, 3.12.2008, COM(2008) 823 final.
Great Britain, Parliament, House of lords & European Union Committee, The European Union and Russia, Report with evidence, 14th Report of Session 2007 – 2008, 2009.
Popescu, N, The limits of enlargement-lite: European and Russian Power in the troubled neighbourhood, European Council on Foreign Relations, retrieved www.ecfr.eu
Whitman, R & ST Wolf, The European neighbourhood policy in perspective, Context, implementation and impact, Palgrave studies in European Union Politics, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire, 2010.
1 N, Popescu,The limits of enlargement-lite: European and Russian Power in the troubled neighbourhood, European Council on Foreign Relations, retrieved www.ecfr.eu
2 BC, Bezen & Demirtas, JC, Neighbourhood challenge, The European Union and its neighbours, Universal Publishers, Florida, 2009, p.325.
3 Great Britain, Parliament, House of lords & European Union Committee, The European Union and Russia: Report with evidence, 14th Report of Session 2007 – 2008, P.181.
4 Commission of the European Communities, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the European Council, Eastern Partnership, Brussels, 3.12.2008, COM(2008) 823 final p.8.
5 R, Whitman & Wolf, St, The European neighbourhood policy in perspective: Context, implementation and impact, Palgrave studies in European Union politics, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire, 2010, P. 120.