Do strategic partnerships serve any real purpose? Eight months after the launch of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) with the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldavia and Ukraine, the EU has little to show for its efforts. And while we are on the topic, what has become of the Union for the Mediterranean? When it was announced 18 months ago, we were told that it would bring together countries on both sides of the Mare Nostrum—a likely story. The Eastern Partnership has not become a household name, not even in Brussels. Of course, you could argue that European officials have been so preoccupied by the fate of the Lisbon Treaty that they have had time for little else. On the occasion of the first meeting of the EaP on 8 December in Brussels, foreign ministers of the 27 member states along with their six counterparts from the former Soviet republics were forced to admit that they did not have much to boast about apart from the hint of a possible U-turn in the attitude of Russia, which may now consider joining the initiative—but nothing really forward looking, and certainly nothing concrete. However, there was some hope that a deal to set up a European Investment Bank fund for lending to EaP countries which was sponsored by the Czech presidency of the EU could bear fruit in 2010. The fact that a Czech, Štefan Füle, has also been put in charge of the new Commission's portfolio for enlargement may also be significant. If he is to make progress, Mr Füle will have to convince the governments of several countries including Russia, that there is a point to the EaP, which Dmitri Medvedev described as "useless." So as not to hurt our feelings the Russian President was careful to add that the EaP is "not dangerous," as if we did not know that already. Let's hope that the reign of the new Commission will help the partners to overcome their fears and prejudices so that they can finally exert a positive influence on developments to the east of Europe's borders. I.B.G.