The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). The first legal framework of wide- spectrum cooperation between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the European Union was established by the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed on April 22, 1996 and came into force on July 1, 1999. PCA gave a new impetus to relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union by providing appropriate mechanisms to strengthen the cooperation. This Agreement involves large-scale cooperation in the areas of political dialogue, human rights, trade, investment, economic, legal, cultural cooperation and in cooperation in other fields. This extensive Cooperation Agreement, which covers various aspects, also envisages taking measures aimed at the approximation of the county legislation with the European Union legislation ("Acquis communautaire" – Set of the European Union regulations).
In accordance with the PCA, various structures such as the Cooperation Council, the Cooperation Committee, the Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, the Sub-Committee for trade, economy and legal affairs, and the Sub-Committee on energy, transport and environment, have been established to maintain regular dialogue between Azerbaijan and the European Union.
The Cooperation Council defines main areas of cooperation, the Cooperation Committee contributes to the Council by making recommendations. The Sub-Committee for trade, economy and legal affairs, as well as the Sub-Committee on energy, transport and environment function under the Cooperation Committee.
The European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). The EU Council decision dated June 14, 2004 on accession of the Republic of Azerbaijan into the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) is an important step forward in bilateral cooperation. The ENP which promises higher level of political and economic integration in the relations with the EU, is a new phase in terms of further development of cooperation for the states that are included in the ENP partnership.
The ENP has created the following possibilities for Azerbaijan:
- The possibility to have a stake in the EU’s Internal Market in exchange for implementation of political, economic and administrative reforms and concrete progress in the achievement of the common values;
- participation in the process of further integration and liberalization in order to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital;
- more effective political dialogue and cooperation with EU Member States, preferential trade relations and open market, migration, cooperation in the fight against drugs and organized crime, investment promotion, acquisition of new sources of funding, supporting the accession of Azerbaijan to the World Trade Organization and etc.
The European Union- Azerbaijan Action Plan
On November 14, 2006 the EU –Azerbaijan Action plan- next political document covering the strategic objectives of the cooperation was signed to reinforce political and economic interdependence between the European Union and Azerbaijan, deepen economic integration, promote stability, security and prosperity.
The Action Plan identified 10 priority areas: 1) contribute to peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, 2) strengthen democracy in the country, 3) strengthen the protection of human rights and of fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, 4) improve the business and investment climate, 5) improve the functioning of customs , 6) support balanced and sustained economic development, 7) further convergence of economic legislation and administrative practices, 8) strengthen EU -Azerbaijan energy and transport cooperation, 9) enhancement of cooperation in the field of Justice, Freedom and Security, including in the field of border management, 10) strengthen regional cooperation.
"Eastern Partnership" initiative (EaP) "Eastern Partnership" initiative initiated by Poland and the Czech Republic, stipulates strengthening of bilateral and multilateral cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova referred to as "eastern partners" within the framework of the ENP. Eastern Partnership framework includes cooperation in the field of deep and comprehensive free trade agreements, the EU-funded programs, "mobility and security pacts", visa-free travel , access to the EU labor market, approximation to the EU legislation and standards compliance, envisages communication among people.
The following platforms were established within the EaP multilateral format to discuss:
- Platform 1 for democracy, good governance and stability;
- Platform 2 for economic integration and adaptation to EU policies;
- Platform 3 Energy Security;
- Platform 4 Communication among people