Euro-Belarusian relations refers to relations between the Republic of Belarus and the European Union (EU). Mutual relations were initially established after the European Economic Community recognised Belarusian independence in 1991.
After Alexander Lukashenko became Belarusian leader in 1994, the relationship between Minsk and the EU deteriorated and has remained cold and distanced, as the EU has condemned the government of Belarus several times for authoritarian and anti-democratic practices, and even imposed sanctions on the country.Following a slight improvement in relations in 2008, the 2010 Belarusian presidential election(which saw a landslide victory of almost 80% for Lukashenko), led to mass demonstrations and arrests in Minsk. The EU declared that the imprisonment of opposition figures and protesters contravened human rights laws, and imposed new targeted sanctions on major Belarusian officials and businesspeople.
Belarus is participating in the EU's Eastern Partnership. In October 2015, EU announced it would suspend most of its sanctions against Belarus.[Although the European Union and Belarus signed a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement(PCA) in 1995, which was intended to govern the mutual political and economic relations, this agreement was not ratified by the EU. Furthermore, the European Union has excluded Belarus from its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which was originally designed to establish a "ring of friends" in the Union's geographical proximity. Brussels has claimed this exclusion to be a direct response to the establishment of an authoritarian regime under President Lukashenko. However, EUâBelarus trade relations are still covered by the Union's Generalised System of Preferences and the most favoured nation (MFN) provisions of the 1989 Agreement between the EU and the Soviet Union. Belarus is amongst the few states in Europe that have not asked for membership in the European Union. Similarly, the European Union has not offered membership to Minsk. Belarus has continuously sought to further its economic and political ties with Russia, being one of the founding members of the Union State(formerly the 'Union State of Russia and Belarus').
In October 2009, a poll conducted by the independent NISEPI institute in Belarus found that 44.1 percent of the Belarusian people would vote Yes in a referendum to join the EU, compared to 26.7 percent one year earlier. Local experts are linking the swing to more pro-EU messages in Belarusian state media, Polish daily Rzeczpospolita says.
On October 30, 2015, it was announced that EU will suspend most of its sanctions against Belarus, following the freeing of the country's political prisoners in August.7]