The EU intends to expand dialogue and cooperation with Azerbaijan as the two parties begin negotiations for a comprehensive new partnership agreement that will better address their shared challenges, said Christian Danielsson, director general for neighbourhood and enlargement negotiations at the European Commission. Mr Danielsson was speaking during a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov in January.
Mr Mammadyarov said Azerbaijan welcomed the EU Council’s adoption of a mandate for the European Commission and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to negotiate the agreement on behalf of the EU and its member states. He expressed confidence the decision would have a positive impact on Azerbaijan-EU cooperation.
Negotiations on a new bilateral cooperation and partnership agreement were due to begin on 7 February following the visit of President Ilham Aliyev to Brussels, where he met with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini and Council President Donald Tusk.
EU relations with Azerbaijan are based on the 1999 EU-Azerbaijan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which provides for wide-ranging cooperation in the areas of political dialogue, trade, investment, economic matters, legislation and culture. Azerbaijan is one of six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries receiving EU4Business funds to reform the business environment for SMEs.
Last year, the EU announced a €13.5 million assistance package to Azerbaijan to enhance SME competitiveness. It also allocated €14.5 million to Azerbaijan for the country’s regional development programme, which includes support for SME development in rural areas.