The EU maintained a relatively united position and made progress in co-operation in the area of both energy and trade.
The EU’s aim is to promote closer economic integration with its eastern neighbours and ensure security of energy supplies, which would create economic opportunities for both the EU and the states east of its borders. In both trade and energy it is the European Commission that leads the negotiations with the eastern neighbours. 2011 saw progress in negotiations with the eastern partners on a DCFTA: the EU and Ukraine concluded DCFTA talks in October and Moldova and Georgia are set to start the negotiations in early 2012. Armenia may follow soon (Belarus and Azerbaijan are not WTO members, which is a precondition for launching DCFTA talks). However, although EU–Ukraine trade relations are most advanced among the Eastern Partnership countries, the DCFTA deal – which is supposed to significantly upgrade them – is currently on hold due to the continued imprisonment of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko.
Progress was also made in terms of energy co-operation: as members of the EU-sponsored Energy Community, Moldova and Ukraine committed to the implementation of the Third Energy Package in October 2011 and thus to liberalise their gas and electricity sectors by 2015. But questions remain about the ability of the two countries to implement the sweeping changes required due to vested interests, capacity and opposition by Russia – Gazprom already offered lower gas prices to Moldova if Chisinau abandons its plans. In September, the EU also reached an agreement with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the planned Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline and mandated the European Commission to take part in the negotiations. When and if constructed, the pipeline will be a significant component of energy co-operation with the region.
In general, EU member states maintained a united line on issues of both energy and trade, although in the run-up to the EU–Eastern Partnership summit in Warsaw, Berlin raised objections to an early launch of DCFTA talks with Georgia and Moldova. All member states also support the suspension of ratification of the DCFTA with Ukraine due to Tymoshenko’s trial.