At the European summit on Thursday and Friday, several measures were decided on to help both non-euro EU members and non-EU members. EUobserver has reported on the measures here. The support for non-euro members will be doubled to €50 billion, and a further €75 billion will be pumped into the IMF (which, though it will help non-European countries, is going to help both EU and non-EU European states). The much fought-over €5 billion, which was the initiative of the Commission, will help the older, richer member states more, but then it is peanuts in any case.
And the Eastern Partnership will be alocated €600 million. I know, still peanuts - in fact, hardly any peanuts at all. One of the most interesting aspects of the Eastern Partnership (perhaps so called to annoy those who like abbreviations?) is the level of Commission involvement there will be in the project: the number of meetings with the representatives with the eastern countries, negotiating and setting common policy, etc. Could this be a strengthening of the Commission's hand in guiding foreign affairs at the expense of the CFSP? Of course, this could be viewed as linked with the Commission's external relations department's traditional role of economic relations, and so it is to an extent, but the sheer amount and frequency of the involvement will surely mean that the head of the CFSP will be eclipsed by the head of the Commission's foreign relations.
Though it depends on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty - which would merge the 2 posts, so it may be a bit much to emphasise this. The Council will also host foreign ministerial meetings every 2 years. However, the other departments of the Commission would also be heavily involved too. Perhaps this could lead to the Commission as a whole becoming more aware and sensitive to the needs of Ukraine, etc., and vice versa? It could mean that a lot of the substance of member states' relations with the Eastern Partnership countries will be handled by the Commission - would it help change (older) member states opinions and policies in the region?
Russia views it as a dangerous development - claiming that the Eastern Partnership represents an attempt by the EU at carving out a sphere of influence. It seems that any tightening of relations on Russia's western border amount to carving out a sphere of influence - basically: "EU and NATO: get out and stay out." At the same time, however, we should recognise that we sometimes get caught up in the same sort of thinking. Worries about Russo-German closeness is one example. In any case, a deepening of relations in the Eastern Partnership won't involve a security dimension, so how can you read these worries of Russia's without reading the implication that these countries should be in Russia's sphere of influence?
On the Belarus question, I think that the EU shouldn't be too lenient on Belarus. Russia is wrong to suggest that the Eastern Partnership has a coercive stance; Belarus can choose to join or not, but I think that the EU needs to be more demanding in its conditions for Partnership membership. A common stance on Georgia is good, but Belarus in my opinion is too oppressive to be considered for membership.