Practical cooperation between Belarus and the EU is expanding amid decreased political contacts
After the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels, the density of political contacts with the EU has predictably reduced. Simultaneously, the EU has revealed plans to fund several large-scale projects with the participation of Belarus.
Within the framework of the Eastern Partnership Territorial Cooperation Programme, the EU will provide more than EUR 3 million for Belarusian-Ukrainian cross-border cooperation projects. These projects are aimed at improving the living conditions of local communities, addressing environmental problems, employment, health care, supporting cultural, educational and sports initiatives in Belarus and Ukraine. Belarus will receive circa EUR 1.5 million for implementing her share of projects. Grant contracts were signed on November 29th, in Kiev.
On November 30th, 2017, the EU announced the intention to allocate EUR 14 million for the implementation of the environmental programme to improve air quality in Belarus. The programme envisages technical assistance, equipment and awareness-raising activities.
In addition, last week, Belarus revealed data on trade with the EU and the US in January-September 2017. Belarus’ trade turnover with the EU has increased by 22.4% up to USD 10.251 billion as compared with 2016. Exports to the EU have shown 22.9% growth to USD 5.49 billion, imports - 21.9% growth to USD 4.77 billion. Trade surplus totalled USD 771.6 million. Exports to the US totalled USD 161.59 million (almost doubled), imports - USD 255.5 million (23.4% less).
Overall, following the EaP summit, political rhetoric and diplomatic activity between Belarus and the EU began to decline, giving way to practical cooperation in areas of mutual interest. That said, conventionally, the intensity of high-level contacts significantly reduces by the year-end.