Eastern Neighbours and Russia: Close links with EU citizens (ENURC)

The ENURC project focused on developing EU citizens’ understanding of the topic of the Eastern Neighbourhood and Russia. The project aimed at encouraging citizens’ interest and involvement in this policy which has an impact on their daily lives. Following the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the growing tensions between the EU and Russia, security of the EU citizens and peace at the edge of the EU is becoming ever more relevant. The EU’s response to Russia showcases the diversity of interests among the EU member states since some member states are dependent on Russia for their energy supply and fear security implications of a more assertive Russia.

This project offered five main activities in five different member states for whose citizens the relation with Eastern Neighbours and Russia is key –  Romania, Germany, Latvia, Sweden and Finland. TEPSA’ s partners in this project were the Romanian Centre for European Policies (CRPE), Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP), Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA), The Swedish Institute of International Affairs  (UI) and The Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA). The activities attracted an audience of in total 791 participants coming from the following EU member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany,  Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The activities approached the topic from different angles: economics, geopolitics, development and enlargement, in order to illustrate the diversity of interests and perceptions on this topic. Besides the five project activities, the project also entailed an EU wide study on the public perceptions on EU’s Eastern Neighbours and Russia. The questionnaire focused on the following four questions related to the Eastern Neighbours and Russia: 1) What are dominant views in your country on future relations with Russia? 2) How do the events in Ukraine affect the views in your country on EU relations with Eastern Partnership countries? 3) How was the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga on 21-22 May 2015 assessed in your country? 4) Does the EU need its own army in order to face up to Russia and other threats according to assessments in your country?

ENURC event: “The new Russia as a challenge for the European Policy”, 22 September 2015



iep1aThe second event organised in the framework of the ENURC project was the Lunch Debate organised by the project partner IEP in Berlin. IEP organises “Lunch Debates” on key topics of the current agenda of European politics. On September 22, 2015 the ENURC IEP Lunch Debate was hosted in the representation office of the German state Saarland. The keynote speaker was Dr. h.c. Gernot Erler, member of the German Bundestag and coordinator for intersocietal cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and member countries of the Eastern Partnership. The debate on “The New Russia as a Challenge for European Politics” was moderated by Dr. Katrin Böttger, Deputy Director of the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP).

Erler’s speech which was divided into three sections: the partnership with Russia, the Ukraine crisis and its significance for EU-Russia relations, and the future of these relations. According to Erler, the Russian Federation has undergone with the European Union a relation of “ignored alienation” since 1990. From the EU’s perspective, a joint and strategic partnership with Russia had developed thanks to the regular EU-Russia Summit and the intensifying civil society and economic alliances. However, Russia increasingly alienated itself from the idea of establishing congruent interests. Russia’s constructive participation in the nuclear negotiations with Iran, the call to establish an anti-terror coalition against the IS in Syria, along with the recently active action against separatists in eastern Ukraine have made it clear that the Russian Federation is less interested in isolation and an escalation of the Ukraine conflict and more interested in a western orientation, according to Erler.

The ENURC IEP lunch debate attracted an audience of 170 participants. It provided an excellent occasion for German nationals and citizens from other countries to share their views on the impact of Russia on the European Union. There were 26 nationalities present during the event. There were participants from Germany, the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, Uzbekistan, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Ukraine, Latvia, Finland, Estonia, Slovakia, Moldova, Lithuania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Spain, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden. For the Europe for Citizens Programme only EU member states are included when calculating the number of participating countries, so 17 EU member states.

You can download here the programme and the report of the event.

More information on the event can be found on the IEP website.

ENURC event: “The Economic influence of the EU and Russia on the Eastern Partnership States”, 22 October 2015


The third event organised within the framework of the ENURC project is an event in Riga, Latvia on the economic influence of both the EU and Russia on the Eastern Partnership states. The event combined an expert meeting on 21 October 2015 and a public discussion with a wide audience on 22 October 2015. This combination ensured a very high level of expertise and state of the art among the speakers, which was of great interest to the general audience attending the public sessiliia1on.

 The expert meeting was an exchange of views on evaluating the economic presence of Russia and the EU in the Eastern Neighbourhood. The meeting had as aim to develop a concept for a book on Eastern Partnership focusing on the impact of the Deep and Comliia2prehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTAs) or their prospect, in all six Eastern Partnership countries.

The public discussion focused on “Eastern Neighbourhood Economies between the EU and Russia”.
Here experts from the region in question and several EU member states presented and discussed this topic from their diverse (national) standpoints.

The exchanliia3ge of views among experts gathered 11 experts from Latvia, France, Sweden, Belgium and ENP countries Moldova, Armenia and Belarus. The public event gathered over 100 policy makers, diplomats, academics, students, civil society representatives and not-organised citizens. 81 signatures of participants were collected, hence the total number of 81 participants included in the reporting of the project.

There was a majority of the participants coming from Latvia itself, but they had the opportunity to interact with citizens from Italy, Sweden, Finland, Germany, all six Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine), Norway, Canada, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Japan.

The full conference programme can be downloaded here.

More information about this event can be found on the LIIA website.

ENURC event: “What’s next after the Eastern Partnership? EU membership perspective for Eastern Europe”, 29 May 2015



The first event organised within the framework of the project “Eastern Neighbours and Russia: Close links with EU citizens – ENURC”, with the support of Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union, was “What’s next after the Eastern Partnership? EU membership perspective for Eastern Europe”. This event was organised by the Romanian project partner CRPE in the margins of EUROSFAT – the annual European debates forum which has been taking place in Romania since 2013. The goal of the event was complementary with the objective of EUROSFAT – bringing together politicians, civil society representatives, business leaders, stakeholders and citizens, in order to debate the most important topics of the Eastern Partnership agenda following Riga summit, thus facilitating a more evidence and dialogue-based position for EU member states and EaP members.

The event took place on May 29, 2015 at the Parliament Palace in Bucharest. The timing of the conference had been adjusted to ensure no overlap with EU’s ENP summit, the Riga Summit, one week earlier, May 21-22 2015.

The session focused on the Eastern Partnership and the EU perspective in the East, Riga EaP summit conclusions, and the new challenges within the Black Sea Region. The event was attended by high level EU officials from the European Commission, members of the European Parliament, politicians from Romania, experts, members of civil society and relevant stakeholders that shaped their positions and expectations towards the European Union and the Eastern Partnership. Moreover, the session was also attended by high level experts from Ukraine, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, the Visegrad countries and the Baltic region.

The event proved to be successful in increasing the level of awareness and knowledge on EU’s concerns and main positions towards the EaP countries and also created the incentives for a better understanding of the relationship between EaP countries and Brussels in Central and Eastern European Countries. The audience of the event was made up of 293 people plus 15 speakers, coming to a total of 308 participants. While the audience consisted mostly of Romanian citizens, they had the opportunity to interact with experts and citizens from other countries who attended the event as audience or speakers. There were nine EU countries participating in the event. Besides the host country Romania, also the United Kingdom, Hungary, Estonia, Poland, Finland, Slovakia, Latvia and the Netherlands. There were also participants from non-EU countries: Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.

Here you can download the programme and the report of the event.

More information about the event can be found on the CRPE website, both in English and in Romanian.

ENURC project seminar: “From a ‘Strategic Partnership’ to a Strategic Problem? Whither EU-Russian Relations”, 4 December 2015


FIIA1The re-assessment of the overall EU-Russia relationship was the subject of the debate in the final conference of the ENURC project, held in Helsinki on 4 December 2015. The conference started with an opening statement of Prof. Wolfgang Wessels, the Chairperson of TEPSA, who also presented the findings of the pan-European study on citizens’ perceptions on Eastern Neighbourhood and Russia. Dr. Teija Tiilikanen, director of FIIA, opened the conference, underlining the importance of exchanging views within the EU on its relations with its Eastern partners.

The three panels of the conference covered EU-Russia security relations; economic relations and energy relations. In his conclusion on the results of the event, Dr Arkady Moshes stated that, the EU-Russian strategic partnership does not exist anymore, even though this may not be officially acknowledged. The EU-Russian conflict has become the new normal.

In addition to the seminar, the final conference included a dinner debate on 3 December for the speakers hosted by the Director of FIIA. This pre-conference event also aimed to provide an opportunity for the speakers to exchange ideas related to their conference presentation, and it proved to be extremely fruitful for the planning and coordination of the public interventions in the conference.

FIIA2The event attracted 114 participants. Around half of the participants came from Finland (65), but also nationals from 30 other countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, United Kingdom, Russia, Morocco, Serbia, Ukraine, South Africa, Egypt, New-Zealand, Indonesia, Palestine, Malaysia, United States, China, Mexico and Belarus. Counting only EU member states, 17 countries were participating to the event.

The full conference programme can be downloaded here.

You can find the report and the podcasts of the conference on the FIIA website.

ENURC conference: “The EU and its Eastern Partners: A Struggle for Stability, Security and Prosperity”, 26 November 2015



On 26 November 2015 The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI) together with the Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA) hosted a conference about the European Union’s Eastern Partnership policy and the prospects for security, stability and prosperity in Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

The first panel, entitled “New Challenges and Threats: How to Improve the EU’s Eastern Partnership Policy?” featured keynote speakers from the EEAS, La the Latvian Parliament and the Eastern Partnership Ambassador of Sweden, who all shared insights from their work within the EU and the national decision-making processes.  The second panel, entitled “More Effective Support for the EU’s Eastern Partners: How?” addressed the challenges that Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Belarus have to master. The four invited experts from the respective ENP countries shared their insights into the difficult domestic political conditions, and how these countries relations with the EU are influenced by the external pressures from the Russian government. The Third panel, entitled “The Challenge of Communicating the Eastern Partnership “post-Crimea”” focused on one of the biggest challenges that the EU, the member states, and Eastern neighbours are facing: how to explain to EU citizens, and the citizens of the Eastern partners, what the Eastern partnership is, what the EU does, why and how the member states are engaged in the ”Eastern Partnership”, and what closer relations with the EU will mean for the citizens and for European security, stability and prosperity? The panelists discussed how the EU can make itself understood. It brought together experts closely familiar with the challenges of communicating the Eastern Partnership.

The conference was attended by 118 participants (12 speakers, 1 moderator and 105 people in the audience). Participants had very diverse national backgrounds: Sweden, Belgium, Hungary, Moldova, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Slovakia, Romania, Panama, Latvia, Cyprus, Russia, Finland, Japan, Bulgaria, Estonia and Serbia. Among these, 14 EU member states were represented.

The conference was followed by an Expert Roundtable on New Strategic Communication Challenges in Europe: How do we identify, understand and address disinformation? Against the background of growing concerns in Europe about the effects of Russian propaganda in the Eastern neighbourhood and even the EU, the roundtable discussion focused on the challenge of how to respond to disinformation and the abuses of the open information spaces. Participants explored ways and means of identifying and addressing disinformation that is spread by different actors through traditional and new “social” media channels and platforms. Both the conference and the roundtable discussion were moderated by Anke Schmidt-Felzmann, Researcher in UI’s Europe programme.

The full conference programme can be downloaded here. The report of the conference can be found here.

More information about the event can be found on UI’s website.

You can find below the podcasts of the panels:

Panel 1 

Panel 2

Panel 3