EaP Index 2015-2016 kick off meeting held in Kiev

On 1st of November, Eastern Partnership Index 2015-2016 project kick off meeting took place in Kiev. 2015/16 EaP Index is implemented by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, supported by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Open Society Foundations and the International Renaissance Foundation. The project core team and country coordinators discussed the methodological update and the research process towards the publication due in March 2017, as well as related advocacy agenda of the civil society actors.
This year it is the primary goal of the EaP CSF to keep the EaP Index as a vital civil society advocacy tool for all six countries, empowering civil society, pushing the advocacy agendas of civil society and pro-reform actors, so it is reflected in the updated concept and methodology, moving ahead with  " a civil society approach". "Integration" is conceived here as a core and multi-dimensional concept (de facto) that consists of converging norms, growing economic exchange, denser transnational networks between societies and more frequent contacts between people. This broad notion of integration implies that EU membership or association may be aims, stages or final states of the integration process, however is not limited to normative approach and is evident of actual societal, economic and political change. The levels of contractual relations between the Eastern Partnership (EaP) states and the EU are viewed as elements of a much broader process that is, as a whole, less driven or controlled by governments and intergovernmental negotiations.  
In an increasingly turbulent and unpredictable international environment, the EU and EaP partner countries need a platform that can provide a balance between bilateral and regional approaches. Therefore, the EaP as a policy remains instrumental, and so does the EaP Index covering six countries, each with immense challenges and fluctuating political directions and perspectives. The Index operates within the regional policy framework, on the one hand using a comparative approach and on the other hand serving as a spark for action. It assesses the reforms made in the countries and also serves as an independent research reference hub that provides data and analysis to guide and improve the empirical basis of policy debate. EaP countries can also position themselves within the wider EaP framework and align not just with benchmarks set internally, but against an independently generated regional scorecard with an external EU member state benchmark (since this year), and in cases where differentiation applies (e.g. among the three countries with AAs), against the undergoing transformative reforms in other EaP countries. 

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