The EU must keep up its engagement with its eastern and southern neighbours and reward them for progress with reforms on a case-by-case basis, say MEPs in a resolution adopted on Wednesday. They want the Council to sign an association agreement with Ukraine in Vilnius if all the EU's conditions are met and call for an effective mobility policy with its neighbours to the south.

The EU's neighbourhood policy will only be credible and have the leverage it needs if it is consistent in giving "more for more" or "less for less", as appropriate, says the resolution, which assesses the progress made by each individual neighbouring country.

MEPs stress that respect for the fundamentals of democracy is a "red line" that cannot be crossed and the EU should focus support on the development of democratic institutions, democratic political parties and civil society in its neighbourhood.

Eastern Partnership

In the Eastern Partnership countries, "The outstanding problems are rule of law, state of democracy, including electoral and judicial systems, and selective justice," said Parliament's rapporteur, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (EPP, PL). "Without solving those problems it is not possible to consider that our systems and political values can be aligned. We express also strong opposition to Russia's pressure to deter those countries from associating with the Union," he added.

If the EU's conditions, set by EU foreign ministers in December 2012, are met the association agreement with Ukraine should be signed at the November summit in Vilnius, MEPs say. They also want the agreement to take provisional effect as soon as it is signed and are ready to complete the formal consent procedure before the end of Parliament's current term.

The southern neighbourhood

"We need to encourage integration at regional level which would lay the basis for development and growth in those countries. We need to adopt a new mobility policy with a new visa policy, which would govern legal immigration and encourage more mobility to help young people to study in Europe and return home to contribute to modernization and development processes," said Parliament's rapporteur for the southern neighbourhood, Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D, IT).

The resolution also points to the urgent need to promote projects for sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development and integration in the Maghreb. While the successful transition of the EU's southern neighbours to democracy must be the EU's priority, social justice and improving the quality of life are also of key importance, they add.

The resolution was passed by a show of hands.

In a separate debate on Monday, MEPs and the Commission debated EU trade policy towards the Eastern Partnership countries ahead of the Vilnius summit.

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution