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B8-0069/2016

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P8_TA(2016)0018

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0068/2016
15.1.2016
PE575.971v01-00
 
B8-0069/2016

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure


on the implementation of the Association Agreements / Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine (2015/3032(RSP))


Cristian Dan Preda, Elmar Brok, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Andrej Plenković, Sandra Kalniete, Jerzy Buzek, David McAllister, Michael Gahler, Daniel Caspary, Iuliu Winkler, Andrzej Grzyb, Tunne Kelam, Jaromír Štětina, Alojz Peterle, Davor Ivo Stier, László Tőkés, Jarosław Wałęsa, Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski, Mariya Gabriel, Fernando Ruas, Siegfried Mureşan, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Dariusz Rosati, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso on behalf of the PPE Group

European Parliament resolution on the implementation of the Association Agreements / Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine (2015/3032(RSP))  
B8‑0069/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Association Agreements / Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (AA/DCFTAs) between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, of the other part,

–  having regard to the ratification by the European Parliament of these agreements in September (Ukraine), November (Moldova) and December (Georgia) of 2014,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as its recent report on the Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and Eastern Partnership,

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit held in Riga on 21-22 May 2015,

–  having regard to the joint communication of the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 18 November 2015 on the Review of the ENP,

–  having regard to the progress reports on Georgia’s and Ukraine’s implementation of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan of 18 December 2015,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are countries of the Eastern Partnership that have chosen the path of closer political association and economic integration with the EU through the most advanced generation of Association Agreement to date, which entail the creation of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (AA/DCFTA) as well as a reform agenda based on the common values of democracy, good governance, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms;

B.  whereas the EU acknowledges the European aspirations of the three countries and emphasises the added value of the Association Agreements in their reform processes;

C.  whereas the AA/DCFTAs with Georgia and Moldova started to be provisionally implemented on 1 September 2014;

D.  whereas the AA provisional application started on 1 November 2014 and the DCFTA with Ukraine started to be provisionally applied only as of 1 January 2016;

E.  whereas visa-free travel between the EU and Moldova was introduced in April 2014, and whereas the latest Commission reports in December 2015 indicate that Georgia and Ukraine now meet the requirements set in the Visa Liberalisation Action Plans;

F.  whereas the EU’s engagement with the Eastern Partnership countries has been met with strong resistance and aggressive reactions from the Russian Federation, such as retaliatory measures against the association countries; whereas the DCFTAs are not directed at the interests of any third party, and whereas the EU has shown substantial good will and effort in addressing any doubts relating to the consequences of the implementation of the DCFTAs;

1.  Welcomes the progress achieved to date in the implementation of the AA/DCFTAs; recalls that scrupulous and timely implementation of these AA/DCFTAs and the related Association Agendas must continue to be a long-term priority for the EU and the three partners; reminds the Commission of the need to undertake all efforts to support the full and successful implementation of the AA/DCFTAs in all three countries;

2.  Points out that the success of the implementation of the AA/DCFTAs depends on a stable political environment, concrete plans for trade policy reform, institutional capacity with a clear division of responsibility, strategic thinking, the involvement of civil society, and financial and technical international support;

3.  Notes that all three countries are facing similar challenges as regards their territorial integrity, and face internal pressures from political, social and economic reforms; stresses that their structural reforms should prioritise consolidating democracy, eradicating corruption and strengthening the rule of law;

4.  Reiterates its firm support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all three partners within their internationally recognised borders;

5.  Underlines the fact that the association countries have freely chosen to establish a deeper relationship with the European Union and that their choice must be fully respected and be free from pressure by any third party; this relationship is aimed at fostering the stability, modernisation and diversification of the economy, prosperity and democracy in those countries, on the basis of respect for human rights, good governance and the rule of law;

6.  Welcomes the positive evaluation by the Commission as regards visa liberalisation for Ukraine and Georgia in the last assessment of the implementation of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plans with the two countries; expects the Council and the Member States to proceed to grant the two countries a visa-free travel regime without undue delay; expresses confidence that a visa-free regime will be seen by the citizens of the two countries to be a tangible benefit of their European choice, as well as foster people-to-people contact between EU businesses, civil society and citizens with their counterparts in the Eastern Partnership countries;

7.  Stresses that endemic corruption and the politicisation and lack of independence of the justice system, which strongly hamper the socio-economic development of the association countries, remain a common challenge for the determined reform efforts by the three association countries in line with the letter and spirit of the AA/DCFTA;

8.  Underlines the fact that the main objectives of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas are, on a micro-scale, to make tangible and sustainable improvements to the living conditions of ordinary citizens by ensuring stability, creating opportunities for SMEs and generating jobs, and, on a macro-scale, to create growth and foster reform, including by combating corruption, improve conditions for trade development and investment, encourage regulatory framework approximation and the gradual economic integration of the partners in the EU internal market, and create a favourable and predictable business climate;

9.  Calls on the Commission to report annually in detail on the implementation of the DCFTAs with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, in particular on the anti-circumvention mechanism for Georgia and the anti-circumvention mechanism and safeguard clause in the case of Moldova;

10.  Highlights the importance of the AA/DCFTA provisions on energy cooperation for security of supply and the development of competitive, transparent and non-discriminatory energy markets in line with EU rules and standards, as well as for renewable energy and energy efficiency; supports the EU’s intention to enhance full energy market integration with Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia through the Energy Community;

11.  Point outs the importance of explaining to the populations of the association countries the benefits of implementation of the AA/DCFTAs and debunking any myths; calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to support the efforts of civil society and the media in this regard, and welcomes the work done by the East StratCom Team to this end;

Georgia

12.  Stresses the need to guarantee a political environment that is calm and respectful and to ensure full respect for the independence and effectiveness of the institutions that are guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights in Georgia; underlines the fact that the existence of viable political opposition is paramount for a balanced and mature political system; condemns all reported acts of violence against members of any political party, and stresses that all such acts should be promptly and thoroughly investigated;

13.  Considers that the pursuit of former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili and the detention and imprisonment of officials who served under previous governments and members of the current opposition are blatant examples of selective justice; expresses deep concern about the exploitation of the judicial system in weakening political opponents, which is undermining Georgia’s European path and the efforts of the Georgian authorities in the area of democratic reform; recalls the case of former Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava, who was arrested within 23 hours of his release from jail after the Constitutional Court declared his extended pre-trail detention anti-constitutional and illegal; calls on the Georgian political elites to focus on their country’s future and to defuse political polarisation;

14.  Stresses that prosecutions must be transparent, impartial, evidence-based, proportionate and free from political motivation, adhere strictly to investigatory procedures and due process and be conducted with full respect for the principles of a fair trial, as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights;

15.  Expresses its concern at the recent attempts to change the ownership and editorial policy of Georgia’s most popular independent television channel, Rustavi 2; demands that this politically motivated intimidation cease; reiterates that this is particularly worrisome against a backdrop of deteriorating media freedom, is in grave breach of the spirit and letter of the AA/DCFTA and, moreover, is jeopardising Georgia’s European path;

16.  Calls on the Georgian Government, especially in view of the 2016 parliamentary elections, to create a favourable environment for free media which promotes freedom of expression and media pluralism, and to allow the media to report independently and objectively without political or economic pressure;

17.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to send an expert mission of high-level advisors comprising retired judges of the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights to oversee the ongoing case regarding Rustavi 2;

18.  Repeats its firm support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, within its internationally recognised borders, and reiterates its concern at the continuing occupation by Russian forces of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali / South Ossetia; strongly condemns the continuation and expansion of the Russian-driven process of so-called borderisation along the administrative boundary line, which has serious humanitarian consequences; encourages Georgia to sustain its efforts to reach out to its communities throughout its entire territory;

Moldova

19.  Expresses serious concern about the de-facto systemic political instability which has effectively continued since the last parliamentary elections on 30 November 2014; regrets that the parliament of Moldova and the political parties represented therein have not yet succeeded in forming a new government since the vote of no confidence on 29 October 2015 led to the resignation of the government led by Prime Minister Valeriu Streleț; notes the unsuccessful attempts to form a new government on 4 and 13 January;

20.  Considers that the current political impasse in Moldova has reached a critical point that risks further destabilising the country and its already weak institutions and endangering the economy, in particular via a fall in FDI and tax revenues;

21.  Calls on all pro-European political parties in Moldova to set aside their differences and assume their responsibilities, to seriously engage in negotiations and bring this crisis to an end, and to find a majority to form a stable government that will function until the end of the current term of parliament and will proceed without delay to implement vigorously all necessary reforms with clear deliverables and a precise timeline for application;

22.  Calls on the pro-European parties to acknowledge the dire geopolitical consequences should their efforts to form a new government fail by the deadline of 29 January 2016, as set by the ruling of the Constitutional Court, which would result in early elections; stresses the potential negative consequences an early election would have on the strength of pro-European parties as well as a possible/realistic shift in geopolitical direction and further destabilisation of the country;

23.  Points out that the necessary reforms in Moldova entail eradicating systemic corruption, undoing state capture, creating an independent, impartial and de-politicised judiciary, stabilising the economy in compliance with the demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and ensuring effective supervision of the banking sector; regrets that, owing to the political instability, the inability of the Moldovan institutions to deliver and the lack of agreement with the IMF, EU financial assistance has been suspended since early 2015; draws attention to a potential default in early 2016 should the current political crisis persist;

24.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to extend all necessary technical know-how and financial support to the future government of Moldova, following the example of the EU Support Group for Ukraine, including by seconding experts and officials from Brussels and Member State capitals and embedding them in the Moldovan administration so that they can assist and monitor the implementation of reforms on the spot and on a daily basis;

25.  Reiterates the need to spare no effort and show political will and courage in duly investigating the corruption scandal which led to the theft of some EUR 1 billion (equivalent to approximately 18 % of local GDP) from the banking sector, and the need to bring those responsible to justice and recover the stolen funds; all the above measures would represent an important step by the political class towards regaining the trust of society;

Ukraine

26.  Welcomes the entry into force as of 1 January 2016 of the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement; condemns, however, the fact that the Russian Federation unilaterally suspended its Free Trade Agreement with Ukraine, introduced heavy trade restrictions on Ukrainian exports to Russia and is hampering the transit of goods to third countries, violating World Trade Organisation and other bilateral trade agreements, with detrimental effects on the Ukrainian economy and its foreign trade; calls on the Council to take actions that will encourage Russia to rectify and abolish those measures; expresses its intention to remain seized of the matter of the EU-Ukraine DCFTA in the relevant European Parliament bodies;

27.  Highlights the unprecedented openness and efforts by the Commission over a year and a half to address all doubts on the Russian side relating to the consequences of the DCFTA’s implementation and to find practical solutions; regrets the incapacity of the Russian side to deliver concrete examples of how its own market and trade would be affected by the entry into force of the DCFTA; reiterates the potential gains of the AA/DCFTA’s implementation for Russia, through increased trade and economic activities and a more stable neighbourhood;

28.  Reiterates its strong condemnation of Russia’s aggressive and expansionist policy, which constitutes a threat to the unity, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine and to the European Union itself, and its military intervention and occupation of Ukrainian territory, including the illegal annexation of Crimea, in breach of international law and Russia’s own commitments resulting from the UN Charter, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Helsinki Final Act and the Budapest Memorandum of 5 December 1994;

29.  Expresses serious concern about the implementation of the Minsk Agreement by the initially agreed deadline of 31 December 2015; recalls that the Russian authorities bear a particular responsibility in this regard; reiterates that cease-fire violations have been increasing since mid-October, monitors from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) continue to experience restrictions on their freedom of movement, the restoration of Ukrainian control over the full length of its border with Russia has not materialised, no agreement was reached on the modalities of the local elections in the temporarily occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk, and not all prisoners and illegally detained persons such as Nadiya Savchenko or Oleg Sentsov have been released;

30.  Welcomes the Council decision of 21 December 2015 to extend the economic sanctions against the Russian Federation following its non-fulfilment of the Minsk Agreements; reiterates that the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements is a prerequisite for the suspension of sanctions;

31.  Congratulates Ukraine on its positive final progress report on the implementation of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan, which was published by the Commission in December 2015; expects the Ukrainian leadership to fulfil its anti-corruption commitments in the first quarter of 2016; welcomes the continuous efforts of the Ukrainian authorities to fulfil the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan; trusts that the swift introduction of a visa-free regime will be overwhelmingly seen by the Ukrainian people to be a tangible benefit of their European choice; expects a concrete legislative proposal from the Commission adding Ukraine to the list of third countries whose nationals are exempt from the visa requirement;

32.  Stresses that the biggest single challenge of the reform effort is endemic corruption; urges the Ukrainian authorities to commit to eradicating corruption in the country; welcomes the decisions taken to date, such as the establishment of anti-corruption legislation, institutions (National Anti-Corruption Bureau, National Agency for Prevention of Corruption, a special anti-corruption prosecutor) and mechanisms; strongly encourages safeguarding political independence, as well as ensuring sufficient financial and other resources allowing the institutions to fulfil their duties, and therefore fully complying with the expectations of both the international community and, above all, the citizens of Ukraine; stresses, in particular, that the anti-corruption institutions must be politically independent and equipped with sufficient competences and resources in order to truly execute their mandate; urges the authorities not to compromise in any way in this field and to confront vested interests, as both the international community involved in supporting Ukraine and the citizens of Ukraine themselves expect fast tangible results in the fight against corruption; progress will only be measured on the basis of results and not of good intentions;

33.  Expects from the Ukrainian authorities swift and rigorous implementation of the provisions of the DCFTA and the Association Agenda; expresses its understanding that the war situation in the east of Ukraine is a serious impediment to this effort; makes clear, however, that the success and resilience of Ukraine vis-à-vis any external foe depends strictly on the health of its economy and legal framework, thriving democracy and growing prosperity;

34.  Reiterates that the full implementation of the AA/DCFTA will lead to greater stability, sustainable growth, access to new markets and approximation to EU rules and standards, which will benefit the economic environment and make decision-making more transparent in procurement procedures for example, thus leaving behind the post-Soviet oligarchic practice of backdoor economic deals; it will bring tangible results to ordinary citizens, providing jobs and allowing them to function in a country with healthy and strong institutions, giving those ordinary people respect and dignity;

35.  In order to restore the full trust of the Ukrainian people in the genuineness of the reform effort of the current Ukrainian authorities, judicial and prosecutorial reform must be treated as long-term priorities; these reforms should ensure a new generation of independent professionals taking offices based on non-biased competitive selection procedures; emphasises that the Prosecutor General should regain the trust of the people by bringing the ones responsible for killing the Euromaidan protesters to justice; the independence of the judiciary, transparent procedures and de-politicisation are of utmost importance; truly effective rule of law needs to be established; emphasises that progress will be visible once there is a radical break with the past and ordinary people know that justice is on their side and not on the side of those who can buy it, as has been the case for the last two decades;

35.  Welcomes the ongoing constitutional reform process in the areas of decentralisation and judiciary; recalls that the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe has issued positive recommendations on both sets of constitutional amendments; stresses that the adoption of the amendments on the judiciary will pave the way for a comprehensive reform of the judicial system, and therefore welcomes the step recently taken by the Ukrainian parliament to send these amendments to the Constitutional Court; underlines the fact that the amendments on decentralisation, besides reflecting a requirement of the Minsk Agreements, will decisively contribute to the modernisation of the country; calls therefore on the Ukrainian parliament to swiftly proceed with the adoption of these amendments in second reading;

36.  Expresses concern about the state of the Ukrainian economy and the overall financial situation of the country; takes note of the mild progress reported on the stabilisation of economic performance; commends the landmark debt-relief deal reached by Ukraine with its creditors in September 2015; recalls that the international community, in particular the EU, European-based international financial institutions, the IMF and individual country donors, have pledged an unprecedented amount of around EUR 20 billion; its disbursement needs to be strictly linked to tangible progress in reforms, benchmarks and timelines in implementation; deregulation and de-monopolisation of the economy must continue to be a priority, as well as further regulatory reforms, genuine privatisation, fiscal reforms, enhancing transparency and creating a favourable investment climate; welcomes the recently established Better Regulation Delivery Office, which is to serve this purpose; calls for the active involvement of the expert community in Ukraine as well as experts from the EU to contribute by providing independent expertise and by monitoring the process of the reform implementation;

37.  Appreciates the effective and dynamic work of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee in overseeing the political, security and economic situation in Ukraine, as well as its commitment and support vis-à-vis improving the overall EU-oriented reform processes undertaken by the Ukrainian authorities; recalls the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the European Parliament in 2015 establishing a joint framework for parliamentary support and capacity-building between the two parliaments; recalls that a Needs Assessment Mission is currently underway to establish the modalities of support to be provided by the European Parliament to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine;

38.  Stresses the need to strengthen Ukrainian civil society so that it can advise and support the authorities in delivering the promised reforms and act as an effective watchdog and whistle-blower; welcomes the effective cooperation between the expert community and the Verkhovna Rada in the reform process and implementation of the AA/DCFTA; commends the fact that the Verkhovna Rada’s priorities are shaped by a comprehensive dialogue with civil society; calls for a stronger approach for raising awareness in the business community, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises, of the specific opportunities that the AA/DCFTA provides; invites other state institutions to partner with civil society, as the implementation of the AA/DCFTA needs genuine support and acceptance by society, which can be achieved only through dialogue and an exchange of views;

39.  Expresses its deep concern at the human rights violations in eastern Ukraine and in Crimea, which is under illegal annexation by the Russian Federation, and where the Crimean Tatars and other minorities, in particular religious minorities, are subjected to targeted human rights violations, as a result of the total breakdown of law and order;

40.  Stresses the need for the EU, in conjunction with the Ukrainian authorities, to devote further attention to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and to address the catastrophic humanitarian situation, in particular the situation of internally displaced persons; commends the efforts undertaken to that end by the Ukrainian authorities, the Commission, the Member States and the international community at large; reiterates its previous calls on the Commission to increase the visibility of EU humanitarian assistance, and emphasises that this is a tangible way of winning the hearts and minds of the people in affected areas; stresses the need for further EU financial assistance for Ukraine in order to cope with the dire humanitarian crisis;

41.  Expresses deep concern about the context surrounding the upcoming Dutch consultative referendum on the EU-Ukraine AA/DCFTA; trusts that the decision of the Dutch people will be taken on the basis of the merits of the agreement, recognising the tangible effects it has on the EU and the Netherlands in particular; seeks clarity from the Dutch Government about the follow-up it expects to give to the outcome of the referendum;

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42.  Stresses that the signing and ratification of the Association Agreements do not constitute a final goal in EU-Georgian, -Moldovan and -Ukrainian relations, and points out that, pursuant to Article 49 TEU, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, like any other European state, have a European perspective and may apply to become members of the European Union, provided that they adhere to the principles of democracy, respect fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights, and ensure the rule of law;

43.  Instructs its President to forward the resolution to the Presidents, Prime Ministers and Speakers of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands.

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