BRUSSELS -- After two weeks of negotiations among EU diplomats, the bloc's 27 member states have reached agreement on the membership "aspirations" and economic "integration" of their eastern neighbors into the bloc.
The text, agreed on by the ambassadors of the 27 EU countries on May 5 and seen by RFE/RL, represents the response to the European Commission's communique on the Eastern Partnership that was presented in March. The document is expected to be published in the coming days.
The Eastern Partnership program was launched in 2009 and is meant to bring Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine closer to the bloc without a clear offer of future membership.
Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine have since inked Association Agreements with the EU, including free-trade deals, but some member states have been reluctant to openly discuss the issue of the eventual accession of these countries.
The European Council "recalls the 2017 Eastern Partnership Summit declaration which acknowledges the European aspirations and European choice of the Eastern partners concerned," the final document agreed by the ambassadors reads.
It also says that "continued alignment with the EU internal market and gradual economic integration" of eastern partner countries are "of key importance."
The wording in the two sentences is very similar to the language used in previous EU documents.
Several officials had previously told RFE/RL that France, backed by some southern EU members, was insisting on putting in brackets the two phrases, meaning that unanimity has not yet been reached on the language.
Other parts of the document were slightly watered down.
For instance, in a phrase saying that the council "reaffirms the joint commitment to building a common area of shared democracy, prosperity, and stability," the word "security" was omitted.