The Armenia-European Union Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) will come into force on 1 March, it may open the road to a visa-free regime between Armenia and the EU.
‘The effective implementation of the Agreement will bring tangible results to our citizens by promoting democracy, political, economic and social stability through extensive reforms’, a statement released on 10 February by Armenia’s Foreign Ministry reads.
The CEPA outlines wide-ranging bilateral co-operation, including in economic, legal, and scientific spheres and will regulate Armenia’s relationship with the EU alongside the Partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) signed in 1996.
In more concrete terms, the agreement regulates cooperation in the energy sector, specifically promoting the development of renewable energy in the country and consequently, aiming at closure and safe decommissioning of the Metsamor nuclear power plant.
Trade cooperation under the agreement, already in force, has entailed the abolition of export duties while maintaining import duties. Indeed, the majority of the treaty articles had already entered into force before the full ratification agreement, with the remainder coming into force on 1 March.
The agreement also includes, but does not guarantee, the eventual possibility of the creation of a visa-free regime between Armenia and the EU.
The European Union is Armenia's second-largest trade partner accounting for roughly 22% and about 20% of Armenia’s total exports and imports, respectively. Meanwhile, from 2017 to 2020, EU assistance to Armenia amounted to €176 million.
A strained relationship
The agreement comes into force at a difficult time for Armenian and EU relations, which have reached a particular low-point in the aftermath of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War.
Political analyst Eric Hacopian told OC Media the ratification of CEPA agreement cannot and will not change the Armenian public’s low opinion of the EU, which he said, ‘lost this country in those 44 days [of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh] last year’ due to its inaction.
As for Armenia’s other geopolitical commitments, Hacopian said that since Armenia does not aspire to become an EU member, there should be ‘no great contradiction between whatever good can come out of this agreement and [Armenia’s] deepening or ongoing relationship with Russia’.