Analysing international policy processes and Lithuania’s role in them
Review Aug 09, 2020

EU-promoted reforms in Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine: progress or challenge?

Key highlights:

  • In recent years, the EU has made considerable efforts to help Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine to carry out internal reforms. To do this, the EU has relied on the Association Agreements/DCFTAs (AA/DCFTA) and macro-financial agreements (MFAs) with the national governments of this particular part of the Eastern European neighbourhood. The AA/DCFTAs contain guidelines for the carrying out of comprehensive reforms in various sectors of public affairs. To facilitate and structure the reforms along the European integration objective which is enshrined in the AA/DCFTAs, the EU and the three countries in question are supposed to design ‘Association Agendas’ (AAs). Georgia and Moldova are operating with recent AAs, unlike Ukraine which did not adopt a more up-to-date AA after the 2015 document.
  • These documents, which were conceived by the EU with Ukraine and Moldova in mind, contain more actions to be taken than is the case for Georgia. Deficient areas which tend to coincide in all three countries are the judiciary, public administration, the fight against corruption, and energy. In addition, the EU can also use MFAs which allow a strategic and calibrated approach in the pursuit of reform. The strength of the latter lies in the application of the conditionality mechanism which usually drives the most urgent reforms. However, the EU may face situations in which, due to a lack of progress, it has to reintroduce older conditions into the new MFAs.
  • To turn challenges into progress, this policy brief presents a series of recommendations, such as prioritising reforms which can be integrated into the rule of law, expanding the conditionality mechanism against non-MFA agreements, focusing on improving levels of professionalism amongst public servants, and the implementation of a reform-monitoring mechanism together with like-minded pan-European organisations. To increase the effectiveness of reform assistance to Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, this policy brief suggests practical solutions towards updating existing instruments and some novel ideas which take into account some of the political, institutional, and policy-making shortcomings of the past.

Associate Expert at the EESC and Research Fellow and PhD student at the Institute of Political Science at the Justus Lybig University of Giessen, Germany, researching global governance and the resilience of countries in the EU neighbourhood. He has published extensively between 2015 and 2021 on European integration, EU-Russia interaction, good governance and energy security in Eastern Europe. Mr Cenusa is also an Associate Expert at the Moldova think tank Expert-Grup, where since 2015 he has been coordinating a SIDA-funded joint project with the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels on Sakartvel, Moldova and Ukraine.