Promoting European strategic sovereignty in the eastern neighbourhood

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Publication Date November 2020
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Since 2002, the European Union’s goal in its eastern neighbourhood has been to ensure that it is surrounded by democracies that uphold the rule of law while maintaining market economies and open societies. This goal remains relevant and important: as recent events in Belarus show, authoritarian stability in the neighbourhood has always proved to be an illusion.

Russia has used political, economic, and military means to contest the EU’s support for the transition to democracy and market economies in eastern Europe. The EU’s tendency to shy away from security issues has helped make covert operations and military threats Russia’s tools of choice in the region.

To counter these efforts, the EU’s neighbourhood policy should focus on the rule of law and judicial reforms, media regulation and information warfare, security sector reform and capacity building, and cyber and energy security. The EU should also add a military and security dimension to its assistance in reforming Eastern Partnership countries’ defence sectors and armed forces.

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