EUROPEAN UNION

EUROPEAN UNION

The European Union is an economic and political partnership between 27 European countries. The EU countries have set up bodies to run the EU and adopt its legislation. Administrative center of the European Union is Brussels.
From December 1, 2009 with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty the European Union replaced and succeeded the European Community as a legal entity. New posts of President of the European Council and of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have been established. The President's term of office is two and a half years. The main responsibilities of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is to represent EU in foreign and security affairs, chair the Council of Foreign Ministers, conduct political dialogue with other states.
The European Council defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union. The European Council elects its President by a qualified majority. The European Council consists of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, together with its President and the President of the Commission.

Council of the European Union is the main decision-making body of the European Union. The ministers of the Member States meet within the Council, which is also referred as Council of Ministers.

European Commission

The European Commission is the EU's executive body. It represents and upholds the interests of Europe as a whole. It drafts proposals for new European laws. It manages the day-to-day business of implementing EU policies and spending EU funds. The Commission also makes sure that everyone abides by the European treaties and laws.

European Parliament
The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body of the European Union. They are elected once every five years by voters right across the 27 Member States of the European Union. At present European Parliament has 736 members.
Armenia-EU cooperation
Brief overview

The relations with the European Union have always been high on Armenia’s foreign policy agenda. The cooperation is aimed at deepening the political and economic relations with the EU as well as implementation of reforms in the sphere of democracy and good governance.

Armenia was included into European Neighbourhood Policy in 2004 and the ENP Action Plan was signed in November 2006. According to the five year Action Plan which came into force on January 1, 2007, Armenia undertook cooperation with the EU in order to register progress in such priority areas as: justice, human rights, economy, creating favourable conditions for investment, contribution to peaceful solution of the NK conflict, regional cooperation.

In order to facilitate the implementation of the ENP Action Plan, an inter-agency commission was set up and the Secretary of National Security Council has been appointed as its Chairman. A detailed list of actions was prepared by the decree of the President in May 2009 with an implementation timetable for 2009-2011. The list identifies some 200 specific actions, directed at economic development, strengthening democracy, creation of viable civil society and enhancement of administrative capacities.

Eastern Partnership

The Summit on Eastern Partnership with the participation of heads of state and government of EU member states and six Eastern Partner countries took place on 7th May 2009 in Prague. The Armenian delegation was headed by President Serzh Sargsyan.

The main goal of the Eastern Partnership, as stated in the joint declaration, is “to create the necessary conditions to accelerate political association and further economic integration between the European Union and interested partner countries”. It is aimed at closer cooperation between the EU and 6 former Soviet Union countries – Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Azerbaijan.

The Eastern Partnership is being developed in bilateral and multilateral dimensions. The bilateral cooperation under the Eastern Partnership provides the foundation for Association Agreements between the EU and partner countries who are willing and able to comply with the resulting commitments.

The multilateral cooperation is being implemented through four platforms: 1) democracy, good governance and stability; 2) economic integration and convergence with EU policies; 3) energy security; and 4) people to people contacts. These frameworks were shaped by the end of 2009 and the main objectives and working plans were approved. Four deputy ministers of foreign affairs, economy, energy and culture, were designated by Armenia to coordinate the above mentioned platform activities in the country.

New contractual relations/ Association Agreement

The main document regulating Armenia’s relations with the EU is the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) which entered into force in 1999 for ten years and was to be extended each year thereafter. The bilateral cooperation under the Easter Partnership should provide the foundation for Association agreements between the EU and partner countries.  The new agreement which is to replace the PCA aims at closer economic integration and political association between EU and the partner countries. The Association Agreement will include provisions on establishing a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. Negotiations on the Association Agreement between Armenia and the European Union were launched on 19 July, 2010.

Parliamentary cooperation

The parliamentary cooperation with EU is implemented through the EU-Armenia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee. In order to create a platform for parliamentary cooperation between EU member states and Eastern Neighbours an idea of Parliamentary Assembly of European Neighbourhood East (EURONEST) has been elaborated. The Euronest Parliamentary Assembly will be composed of equal number of Members of European Parliament and equal number of MPs from Eastern Partner countries. Armenia has welcomed the idea of EURONEST as a structure of parliamentary dialogue between the EU and its Eastern Partners.

EU Advisory Group

A new development in Armenia’s relations with the European Union was the establishment of the EU Advisory Group in Armenia. The decision to send EU advisers to Armenia was made in November 2008 during the visit of President Serzh Sargsyan to the European institutions in Brussels. In accordance with the memorandum signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandyan and Commissioner Benita Ferrero- Waldner, the EU advisors provide consultancy assistance to institutions of public administration /government agencies, the office of Prime Minister, the National Assembly, ministries of economy, finances and transport, as well as the State Revenues Committee and the Ombudsman’s office. Originally planned for six months, the project has proved to be a success and has been prolonged to September 2010, with a prospect of further extension. The EU advisors cooperate with government agencies in spheres of anticorruption strategy, governance reform, human rights, government debt management, raising the efficiency of customs administration, establishment of the Diplomatic Academy of the MFA of Armenia. Armenia was the first to initiate such a model and it is being introduced in other Eastern partner countries as well.

Treaties between Armenia and EU

1. Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Armenia, of the other part (signed on 22/04/1996, entered into force on 01/07/1999)

2. Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Armenia on certain aspects of air services (signed on 09/12/2009, entered into force on 12/11/2009)

Information on EU assistance projects in Armenia can be found here.

JOINT DECLARATION BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA AND THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION

Links

EU web site - www.Europa.eu
Delegation of the EU to Armeina www.delarm.ec.europa.eu