Poland proposes Eastern Partnership free-trade zone: FM

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz proposed the creation of a free-trade zone between the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries at a high-level conference in Brussels on Tuesday which marked the 10th anniversary of the EaP.

Minister Czaputowicz, who was a participant in a panel discussion on the achievements and challenges of the EaP, proposed the formulation of extended association agreements for those EaP states which have greater ambitions.

In his opinion, it would be worthwhile for the EaP countries to establish a free-trade zone among themselves. “This would be seen as a very positive sign,” he told the ministers of the Partnership countries.

He added that the EaP countries should also strengthen sectoral cooperation between themselves and the EU, in the areas of the environment, chemical safety, energy security, the digital market and financial services. “We could have even closer cooperation in these sectors. Why not invite [EaP] representatives to the Council meetings which concern these sectors,” he suggested.

Also among his proposals were the establishment of an EaP secretariat, as well as a rotating presidency which would cooperate with the EU presidency.

Launched in 2009, the EaP is a joint initiative of the European Union, its member states, and six Eastern European Partners governing its relationship with the post-Soviet states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.