7th PLENARY ROUND OF THE EU-ARMENIA NEGOTIATIONS ON THE ASSOCIATION AGREEMENTDelegation of the European Union to Armenia Press and Information Department Yerevan, 27 October 2011
These negotiations reflect the intensification of the political and economic relations between the EU and Armenia. During the negotiations the EU and Armenian sides discussed issues in the field of political dialogue and reform, cooperation in the field of foreign policy, justice, freedom and security, as well as economic, sectoral and financial cooperation.
The chief negotiators on both sides, Mr. Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia and Mr. Gunnar Wiegand, Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, Regional Cooperation and OSCE, European External Action Service, concluded that progress was achieved, which was also reflected in a provisional closure of one more additional negotiation chapter forming the core of the future Association Agreement.
The future agreement will lead to the political association and economic integration of Armenia and the EU. Its principal objective will be to draw Armenia closer to the EU through commitments across a range of areas, based on a strong degree of approximation to EU laws and standards. These areas will include enhancing political cooperation, reinforcing joint measures in migration, asylum, border management, combating organised crime, expanding economic relations, and increasing co-operation in critical sectors such as energy, environment, transport and public health, with a direct impact on citizens’ daily lives and on the business environment. Both sides will continue preparations to negotiate a future Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area as an integral part of the Association Agreement on the basis of the European Commission’s Key recommendations issued to the Armenian government in June 2009.
Better mobility between the EU and ArmeniaDelegation of the European Union to Armenia Press and Information Department Yerevan, 28 October 2011
On 27 October Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs, Jerzy Miller, Poland‘s Minister of the Interior and Administration, and Edward Nalbandian, Armenia‘s Minister of Foreign Affairs, officially launched a new Mobility Partnership. Together with ten Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Sweden) they signed a Joint Declaration on carrying out a series of initiatives in the field of migration. These will strengthen relations between Armeniaand the EU by promoting mobility and cooperation on migration issues.
“The launch of this Partnership with Armenia is a very important step towards bringing European and Armenian citizens closer. The Mobility Partnership, together with other instruments such as future Visa Facilitation and Readmission agreements, will be key in increasing the mobility of European and Armenian citizens in a well-managed and secure environment”, said Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström.
“This Mobility Partnership is a clear sign of the readiness of the European Union and the countries of the Eastern Partnership to move towards a closer integration. Fostering mobility and people-to-people contacts is fundamental for the promotion of social and economic development and mutual understanding between the people in Armenia and in the EU “, stated Stefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy.
With this Mobility Partnership, the EU and Armenia will step up their dialogue and cooperation in key areas. Practical initiatives will be launched to enhance Armenia’s ability to manage migration and inform, integrate and protect migrants and returnees.
The partnership will also support Armenia‘s efforts to improve the way it deals with issues relating to asylum and the protection of refugees, and to the prevention and reduction of irregular migration and human trafficking. Ten EU Member States as well as the European Training Foundation (ETF) are involved in this partnership, which remains open to other Member States wishing to take part.
The European Union’s INOGATE Programme helps promote Energy Security in Armenia
Delegation of the European Union to Armenia Press and Information Department Yerevan, 27 October 2011
A successful INOGATE and Energy Community Information Event was held on 26 October in Yerevan, followed by a Round Table on ‘EU-Armenia Cooperation in the Fields of Energy Market Convergence and Security of Supply’, co-organised by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of the Republic of Armenia, the INOGATE Technical Secretariat and the Energy Community Secretariat.
Mr. Levon Shahverdyan, Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of the Republic of Armenia, in his keynote address, emphasized that the already strong energy partnership between Armenia and the EU is being further reinforced through cooperation in energy security and in new areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. Mr. Philip Mikos, representative of the European Commission in charge of Regional Programmes, Neighbourhood East, confirmed that “the EU attaches great importance to the development of the energy sector in the European Neighbourhood countries and is committed to stepping up the energy cooperation with Armenia to improve market integration and energy security.”
Both events gave the opportunity for information exchange to reinforce Armenia’s participation in the INOGATE Programme, an EU-funded programme promoting international energy cooperation between the European Union and its Partner Countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, of which the Republic of Armenia is one of the founding members. Recent INOGATE support to Armeniawas highlighted at the events as follows:
technical support to energy regulatory practices;
- support for the introduction of technical standards and practices in the oil, gas and electricity sectors;
- assistance in emission reduction projects and carbon trading;
- recommendations on methodologies for calculation of tariffs for gas transportation and transmission;
- capacity building in energy audit analysis for project funding;
- guidelines for mini-hydro feasibility study evaluation; and
- technical assistance to energy saving in the building sector.
The events also served to promote the ongoing cooperation between Armenia and the Energy Community, to which Armenia became an observer earlier this month. The Energy Community Treaty has been developed by the EU to extend the EU’s integrated energy market to South East Europe and beyond on the ground of a legally binding framework. In this way, it provides a stable investment environment and contributes to security of supply in wider Europe. Ukraine and Moldova are two INOGATE Partner Countries that have already joined the Energy Community.
The events were attended by a wide range of energy stakeholders, including government, industry, international financial institutions and civil society representatives. The opinions expressed by the participants will feed into the support strategy of the INOGATE Programme for the benefit of Armenia, with a specific focus on developing policies and actions for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, and for increasing energy security and market convergence.
Visa Information System (VIS) introduced in Armenia
Delegation of the European Union to Armenia Press and Information Department Yerevan, 25 October 2011
The Visa Information System (VIS), one of the tools supporting the implementation of the common EU visa policy, was presented today during an information session in the Embassy of Poland to Armenia.
The purpose of the EU common visa policy for short stays is to enable the Schengen Area to function efficiently and facilitate the entry of legal visitors into the EU, while strengthening internal security. Over the past years, the EU has been developing large-scale IT systems for collecting, processing and sharing information relevant to external border management, and VIS is one of the results.
It allows Schengen States to exchange visa data through a central IT system and a communication infrastructure that links this central system to national systems. VIS connects consulates in non-EU countries and all external border crossing points of Schengen States, and then processes data and decisions relating to applications for short-stay visas to the Schengen Area.
“The purpose of VIS is to facilitate checks and the issuance of visas. It also helps fight abuse, enhances security, and protects travellers from identity theft,” said Onno Simons, First Counsellor of the EU Delegation to Armenia.
What VIS entails: 10 fingerprints and a digital photograph are collected from persons applying for a visa. These biometric data, along with data provided in the visa application form, are recorded in a secure central database and can be re-used for further visa applications over a 5-year period. (Fingerprints are not required for children below 12 or for people who physically cannot provide a finger scan). When the visa holder arrives at the external Schengen border, the border authorities have access to VIS to verify the identity of the visa holder and the authenticity of the visa.
VIS applies to all Schengen States and after a transitional period, the new EU Agency for large-scale IT systems (to be launched in autumn 2012) will be responsible for the operational management of VIS.
Competent visa authorities may consult the VIS for the purpose of examining applications and decisions related thereto. In specific cases, national authorities and Europol may request access to data entered into the VIS for the purposes of preventing, detecting and investigating terrorist and criminal offences.