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Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee

For many years, the European Parliament's relations with the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, were channelled through a "Parliamentary Cooperation Committee".

This Committee had been established by the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement that the EU and Ukraine signed in 1994. This agreement entered into force in 1998, the same year that the Parliamentary Cooperation Committee met for the first time.

Between 1998 and 2014, European and Ukrainian legislators met through the Committee a total of 21 times.

A new agreement, a new inter-parliamentary committee

In an effort to reinforce bilateral ties, the EU and Ukraine replaced the EU-Ukraine Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with a more extensive and updated Association Agreement.

Signed on 27 June 2014, the Agreement was ratified simultaneously by the European Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada on 16 September 2014. Some of its political provisions provisionally came into force on 1 November 2014, followed by its free trade section (creating a "Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area") on 1 January 2016. The Association Agreement fully entered into force on 1 September 2017, following the ratification by all EU Member States.

The new agreement also replaced the "Parliamentary Cooperation Committee", instead linking the European and Ukrainian parliaments with a "Parliamentary Association Committee".

In addition to serving as an important forum for debate on the bilateral relationship, the Parliamentary Association Committee exercises parliamentary oversight over the implementation of the Association Agreement.

Work of the Parliamentary Association Committee

The Committee was inaugurated on 24-25 February 2015 in Brussels, with the participation of Volodymyr Groysman, Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament.

The Committee was initially co-chaired by MEP Andrej Plenković, a Croatian Member from the EPP group, and MP Ostap Semerak from Ukraine's Popular Front. Following the 2016 nominations of Mr Plenković to the post of Prime Minister of Croatia, and that of Mr Semerak to the post of Minister of Ecology of Ukraine, MEP Dariusz Rosati (EPP, Poland) and MP Mykola Kniazhytskyi (Popular Front) were elected as co-chairs of the Committee.

Officially, the Parliamentary Association Committee meets twice a year, alternating between the premises of the European Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada.

Participants at these meetings adopt joint recommendations on a variety of topics.

Since the Committee began its work, discussions have often focused on the state of bilateral relations, notably the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, the security situation and Ukraine's reform process in key areas, such as

  • the fight against corruption,
  • the reform of the judiciary,
  • the decentralisation process,
  • electoral reform,
  • reform of the public administration.

Delegation contribution

In addition to its contribution to the Parliamentary Association Committee, the European Parliament's D-UA Delegation meets to consider relevant issues.

The Delegation has held numerous debates with

  • key institutional players,
  • governmental actors (including Ukrainian ministers),
  • representatives of think-tanks, civil society, non-governmental organisations,
  • human rights defenders,
  • religious leaders,
  • representatives of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and of the Council of Europe.

European Parliament involvement in Ukrainian politics, 2004-present

The European Parliament as a whole has been extremely attentive to political developments in Ukraine since 2004.

During Ukraine's Orange revolution, the Parliament dispatched an ad hoc delegation to observe both rounds and the re-run of the presidential elections in November-December 2004. The vote finally brought Viktor Yushchenko to power.

Following the country's 2010 presidential elections, which brought a change of power, the European Union and the European Parliament grew concerned by Ukraine's application of selective justice to opposition leaders. This concern was reflected in a number of resolutions adopted by the European Parliament.

In response, European Parliament's then-president Martin Schulz nominated two special envoys - former European Parliament president Pat Cox and former President of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski - to work on this complex issue, in coordination with Ukrainian stakeholders. The pair undertook 27 visits to Ukraine between June 2012 and November 2013.

In the 2013-2014 Euro-Maidan revolution in Ukraine, the European Parliament was again actively involved. Two ad hoc delegations were sent during the crucial days in January and February 2014 and three resolutions were adopted.

The European Parliament has also closely followed the evolving security situation in Ukraine since Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and since the start of the armed conflict in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. The Parliament has repeatedly condemned Russian aggression and defended Ukraine's territorial integrity and the rights of all the country's citizens, including those living in the non-government controlled parts of the Donbas and the Crimean Tatars living in Crimea.

On 12 December 2018, the European Parliament's Sakharov Price for Freedom of Thoughts will be awarded to Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian citizen and filmmaker imprisoned in Russia.

Elections observation and democracy support

The European Parliament has been very active in observing elections in Ukraine and sent three observation missions in 2014-2015, during:

  • presidential elections of 25 May 2014,
  • parliamentary elections of 26 October 2014, and
  • local elections of 25 October 2015.

Under the leadership of Elmar Brok, the European Parliament's lead MEP for democracy support activities in Ukraine, the house also carries out a far-reaching capacity-building programme for the Verkhovna Rada. This effort builds on recommendations formulated in the "needs assessment mission" conducted by former Parliament President Cox between September 2016 and February 2017.

A mediation and dialogue process, called the "Jean-Monnet Dialogue", is steered by the European Parliament and gathers Verkhovna Rada Speakers, Deputy Speakers and political faction leaders to follow the implementation of these recommendations.

The legal framework for the European Parliament's support and capacity building is the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada on 3 July 2015, together with the Administrative Cooperation Agreement signed by the two legislatures' Secretary Generals in March 2016.

Committees' contributions

Finally, several specialised Committees and Sub-Committees from the European Parliament pay close attention to developments in Ukraine.

These include:

  • the Committee on Foreign Affairs,
  • the Sub-Committees on Human Rights and on Defence and Security,
  • the Committee on Civil Liberties (particularly for visa-related issues),
  • the Committee on International Trade (focusing on the Free Trade provisions, macro-financial assistance and autonomous trade measures),
  • the Committee on Legal Affairs (for the reform of Ukraine's justice sector),
  • the Committee on Budgetary Control (which verifies EU assistance spent in Ukraine).