The 2009 Lisbon Treaty, which created the positions of Permanent President and High Representative, considerably changed the powers of the Council Presidency in external EU policies. Recent research indicates that the influence of the Presidency in this policy area has decreased, but also suggests that the chair now shapes external EU policies by using other channels more intensively: inter-institutional negotiations, interventions in preparatory bodies, and agenda-setting in other Council configurations. The paper assesses and compares the role of the Hungarian and Polish Presidencies in the EU's policy towards the Eastern Partnership countries - Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Primary data are gathered through documentary analysis of official documents and statements, as well as expert interviews with Hungarian and Polish government representatives and civil servants from other member States, the European Parliament and the Commission. Starting from a rational choice perspective, two research questions are explored: (1) the extent to which the Presidency influences the EU's policy towards the Eastern Partnership, and (2) the channels that are at the disposal of the Presidency for doing so.
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