Procedure : 2015/3032(RSP)
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Document selected : B8-0068/2016

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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0068/2016

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/DCFTAs with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine  (2015/3032(RSP))

Rebecca Harms, Heidi Hautala, Tamás Meszerics, Ulrike Lunacek, Peter Eriksson, Igor Šoltes on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

European Parliament resolution on the implementation of the Association Agreements/ DCFTAs with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine  (2015/3032(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine,

–  having regard to the final statement and recommendations of the second meeting of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee held in Kiyv on 4-5 November 2015,

–  having regard to the final statement and recommendations of the first meeting of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee held in Tbilisi on 3-4 November 2015,

–  having regard to the final statement and recommendations of the first meeting of the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Association Committee held in Brussels on 21-22 September 2015,

–  having regard to its resolution on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy of 9 July 2015(1),

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

A.  whereas the association agreements between the EU and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine mark a turning point for these countries on their path towards European integration;

B.  whereas the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) are an integral part of these agreements, aimed at further deepening economic relations with the EU and represent an important opportunity for the sustainable development of these countries provided that all the clauses are fully implemented and the necessary assistance is supplied;

C.  whereas the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) released on 18 November 2015 identifies security and stability as the most urgent aspects and challenges for the next years;

D.  whereas Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have been affected by prolonged conflicts instigated by the Russian Federation and aimed at undermining the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the countries concerned as well as the will of their people to determine freely their future;

E.  whereas good governance, democracy, the rule of law and human rights remain at the core of the ENP and represent a fundamental commitment in particular by the three countries that signed the Association Agreements with the EU;

1.  Supports the aim of the Association Agreements and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (AA/DCFTAs) to significantly deepen political, social and economic relations between Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and the EU; expects the full implementation of these agreements to bring tangible improvements to the lives of the citizens of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in areas such as education, employment and justice, and to increase their living standards and their security; calls on the Member States that have not yet done so to complete the ratification process for the three Association Agreements;

2.  Stresses, in particular, the importance of implementing all the clauses of the agreement and to make every effort to ensure that the entire population of the countries concerned can benefit from them;

3.  Draws attention to the potential negative social and environmental repercussions of a partial or selective implementation of the DCFTAs and calls, in this respect, on the relevant authorities to adopt the necessary measures aimed at preventing any possible social and environmental dumping; emphasises the importance of parliamentary oversight in the AA implementation process, in accordance with the best practices of EU Member State parliaments and welcomes the agreement between the three relevant parliaments to support each other in this respect;

4.  Stresses the crucial role the Commission should play in facilitating the implementation of the AA/DCFTAs, monitoring and assisting the relevant authorities both technically and financially so that tangible positive effects and benefits covered by these agreements can be delivered to citizens in the short term;

5.  Welcomes the efforts made by Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in ensuring that national legislation approximates EU standards based on AA/DCFTA commitments; stresses the importance of maintaining the pace and course of reforms and encourages the authorities of the countries concerned to make full use of available EU assistance;

6.  Welcomes, in this respect, the work of the EU Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform in Ukraine, as well as the various platforms set up by the EU institutions to support Ukraine in its reform efforts, such as the Commission’s Support Group for Ukraine, and the Committee of the Region’s recently created Ukraine Task Force; calls for the adoption of similar initiatives for Georgia and Moldova; stresses the need for close cooperation and an efficient exchange of administrative best practices;

7.  Highlights the role that the civil society and the relevant Civil Society Platforms provided for in the Association Agreements can play in this process with regard, in particular, to raising public awareness and monitoring the implementation of the agreements and the adoption of the relevant necessary reforms; urges the authorities of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to involve civil society organisations and all the relevant stakeholders in the process and calls on the Commission to contribute to providing, in this respect, the adequate financial means to do so;

8.  Highlights the need for a comprehensive information campaign geared at the public outlining the aims and content of the Association Agreements and the direct and concrete benefits for citizens arising from their implementation; underlines the importance of promoting objective, independent and impartial information in this regard, and of enhancing the capacity of the EU to counter misinformation and propaganda campaigns misrepresenting it and the ENP;

9.  Reiterates its view that the Association Agreements do not constitute the ultimate goal in relations between the EU and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine; points out, furthermore, that pursuant to Article 49 TEU, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have a European perspective and may apply to become members of the European Union, provided they adhere to the Copenhagen criteria and the principles of democracy, respect for fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights, and ensure the rule of law;

10.  Expresses its strong support for sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine within their internationally recognised borders, and condemns Russia’s expansionist policy of destabilisation of the neighbouring countries that resulted in the protracted conflicts of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria and the Donbass and the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea; reaffirms its joint determination that peaceful reintegration of these territories should be achieved in the framework of international law;

11.  Welcomes the Commission’s positive recommendation of 18 December 2015 to grant visa-free regime to Georgia and Ukraine; urges the Ukrainian authorities to ensure the full operation of anti-corruption bodies before April 2016 and expresses confidence that the Commission’s recommendation will be followed by a prompt endorsement by the Council so that the citizens of Georgia and Ukraine will be able to travel freely to the EU as the citizens of Moldova;

12.  Stresses that such a development would further facilitate people-to-people contacts, including with Georgian, Moldovan and Ukrainian citizens currently residing in its occupied regions, and would also strengthen business, social and cultural ties between the EU and Georgia and Ukraine, and would demonstrate that closer relations with the EU do bring tangible benefits to all;

13.  Points out the need for the EU to remain united and speak to Russia with one voice and keep Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova at the top of the EU agenda; emphasises that the eventual process of normalising relations with Russia must in no way take place at the expense of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova; underlines once more that the development of the Eastern Partnership is not aimed at disrupting the traditional historical and economic relations of the countries concerned; urges the EU to avoid creating unnecessary tensions and to identify compatible areas of cooperation and economic integration with the Eurasian Economic Union; emphasises, however, that any such cooperation must be compatible with WTO rules and based on international standards and the free and sovereign decision of states to participate;

14.  Welcomes the review of the ENP prioritising security and stability; stresses the importance of a differentiated and tailor-made approach based on the merits and the ambitions of the countries concerned and the need, in particular, to create innovative and flexible instruments to support the implementation of AA/DCFTAs; calls on the EU to play a more active and effective role as regards the resolution of the conflicts affecting Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and to provide the necessary assistance to facilitate the reintegration of the territories controlled by Russian-led separatists;


15.  Expresses support for the efforts made by all Ukrainian institutions in the reforms already undertaken and encourages them to embark on a more vigorous reform path with strong support from the EU institution;

16.  Welcomes the provisional application of the DCFTA as of 1 January 2016; expresses satisfaction about the preparatory work that has already been conducted; encourages EU and Ukraine trade departments to make sure that new market access opportunities are actually created to the benefit of Ukraine’s economy, while at the same time supporting and developing internal demand; finds regrettable the failure to reach an agreement with the Russian Federation after numerous talks failed to narrow the differences as regards Russian concerns and the decision of the Russian authorities to suspend unilaterally the CIS Free Trade Agreement imposing most favoured nation (MFN) import duties on Ukrainian goods from 1 January 2016; underlines the fact that the other members of the Eurasian Economic Union did not follow Russia’s decision and calls on Moscow to adopt a constructive stance avoiding a new trade war; urges the EU to support Ukraine in current and future disputes with Russia launched at the WTO by taking third party status;

17.  Welcomes the vote in first reading of the constitutional amendments related to decentralisation; recalls that the Venice Commission had issued a positive opinion on the draft amendments; stresses that decentralisation constitutes a core reform of the Ukrainian Government with a view to modernising the country and is meant to strengthen the power and institutional capacity of local communities and substantially improve the management of, inter alia, land, health care, education and social protection, for the benefit of citizens; expects that the amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine will be adopted in second reading by the required majority in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine;

18.  Welcomes the ongoing and dedicated work on constitutional amendments with regard to the reform of the judicial system and the status of the judges, which is vital for the fight against corruption; urges Ukrainian authorities to move forward with these amendments, while taking into account the opinion delivered by the Venice Commission; calls on Ukraine to ratify the ICC Rome Statute;

19.  Expresses greatest concerns as to the level of deep-rooted corruption in the country and recalls that the eradication of corruption was one of the main demands of the Revolution of Dignity; welcomes the steps recently taken, especially by the Ukrainian Parliament, to put in place an appropriate institutional framework to combat corruption in the country, in line with the comprehensive anti-corruption legal package adopted on 14 October 2014, in particular the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption and the National Agency on the recovery of the proceeds of corruption; welcomes, in addition, the recent adoption of the law on state financing of political parties, which will enter into force on 1 July 2016, and of the law on public procurement;

20.  Welcomes the EU’s active support and solidarity in the energy sphere that allowed Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine to resume for the winter period of 2015-2016; calls on the Member States to fully exploit the transit potential of Ukraine and to strengthen cooperation in order to secure the energy supply both to EU and Ukraine, and avoid the building of new pipelines bypassing Ukraine, in particular the development of the ‘Nord Stream II’ project for the delivery of Russian gas to Europe that might prove detrimental to the EU’s strategy on the diversification of energy sources and to EU law; welcomes the law on developing alternative energy, as well as cooperation with the Member States and other measures aimed at ensuring Ukraine’s energy diversification and energy security;

21.  Finds regrettable that in spite of the measures agreed at the Paris Summit in the so-called ‘Normandy format’ on 2 October 2015 and some initial positive steps taken, the parties did not manage to implement the Minsk II Agreement in full by 31 December 2015; expresses its deep concern at the low intensity combat activities and the recurrent violations of the ceasefire mainly by the separatist forces and calls on all sides to fulfil their commitments; calls on Russia to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, including Crimea, and to implement without further delay the pending provisions of the Minsk Agreements, in particular the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries, as well as heavy weapons and tanks, the release of all hostages illegally detained by the separatists, and access by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to the whole territory of certain regions of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and an uncontrolled part of the border with the Russian Federation, in order to facilitate the further transition to Ukraine’s Border Guards Service; welcomes the decision to increase the number of OSCE monitors;

22.  Looks forward to the conduct of free and fair local elections in certain regions of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) standards, with participation of Ukrainian political parties and under the OSCE ODIHR monitoring as provided for in the Minsk Agreements and in line with the agreement reached in the ‘Normandy format’ at the Paris Summit;

23.  Highlights the fact that the ongoing conflict has caused a dire humanitarian situation in the Donbas region and that Ukrainian and international humanitarian organisations are being refused access to the occupied regions of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts or continue to face obstacles in the form of Russian-backed militants in their efforts to deliver aid; calls for immediate access to be granted to humanitarian aid and aid workers; considers that the legislation on humanitarian aid should be improved in order to facilitate delivery efforts; welcomes the creation of the Agency for Donbas Recovery dedicated to addressing all humanitarian related issues and calls on the Ukrainian Government to provide it with the necessary financial and human resources; welcomes the humanitarian and financial support of the EU to help Ukraine in coping with this challenge; expresses deep concerns regarding the challenging humanitarian conditions of the more than 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and calls for their safe return to their place of origin; underlines the fact that particular attention should be paid to providing relief to children who are the most vulnerable group to suffer during this conflict; welcomes the first round of a new nationwide polio vaccination campaign;

24.  Welcomes the decision to extend EU sanctions on Russia for the next six months and stresses that these measures should remain in force until both the spirit and the letter of the Minsk Agreements are effectively and fully implemented and until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored; recalls that in the event of any further provocation or destabilisation of the situation in Ukraine, these restrictive measures should even be strengthened; takes the view that a resumption of EU-Russia cooperation should be envisaged on the condition that Russia respects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine;

25.  Welcomes the release of the report by the Dutch Safety Board on the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), in which 298 innocent civilians were killed; supports the establishment of an international criminal tribunal, and calls on the Russian Federation to fully cooperate with the international community in order to conduct a comprehensive and impartial criminal investigation, and to bring those responsible to justice; deplores the decision of the Russian Federation to block the resolution in the UN Security Council on the creation of an international court to investigate this crime;

26.  Calls for the release of all hostages, as provided for in the Minsk Agreements, and of illegally detained Ukrainian citizens in the Russian Federation, including Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko and others;

27.  Expresses its deep concern about the deterioration of the human rights situation in annexed Crimea, especially of minority rights, in particular of the Crimean Tatars, and of the rights of all Ukrainian citizens;

28.  Welcomes the fact that, according to the international observation mission, the local elections held on 25 October 2015 were conducted largely in line with internationally recognised standards; calls on all relevant actors to address the shortcomings identified by the International Observation Mission; stresses the importance of improving the electoral legislation, of the transparency of campaign financing and of free and fair access to media for all political forces; underlines that, in the process of the reform of electoral law, it will be important to take into account the rights and interests of the national minorities, as stated in the Constitution of Ukraine;

29.  Expresses concern at the decision of the Ukrainian authorities to ban the Communist Party of Ukraine and calls on them to respect fully freedom of expression and association in line with EU values and standards;


30.  Calls for full implementation of the recommendations enshrined in the landmark ‘Georgia in Transition’ report submitted by EU Special Adviser Thomas Hammarberg on constitutional and legal reform and human rights;

31.  Recalls in particular the report’s focus on the need to strengthen the rule of law and to introduce effective systems and mechanisms of checks and balances in order to separate the state from the governing political bloc of the day, by further developing strong democratic institutions and accountable law enforcement agencies, including the Prosecutor’s Office, and in this respect welcomes, as a first step, the recent amendments to the Law on Prosecution Service aimed at depoliticising the Prosecutor’s Office;

32.  Reaffirms that criminal investigations and prosecutions have to be evidence based, transparent, impartial and free from political motivation, adhering to the principles of due process and be concluded in full respect of the principles of a fair trial, in line with Association Agreement commitments; stresses that pre-trial detention is an exceptional measure that should apply only in urgent and unambiguous circumstances, strictly in line with the law and avoiding any abuse; welcomes the confirmation of the constitutional court that such a measure is limited to nine months and recognises that the existence of a valuable political opposition is paramount in the creation of the balanced and mature political system to which Georgia aspires;

33.  Welcomes the adoption of the new labour code and calls for its full compliance with the labour rights and standards set out by the International Labour Organization, as provided for in the trade and sustainable development chapter of the DCFTA;

34.  Calls for the full implementation of the law on transparency of media ownership, in order to promote and guarantee media pluralism and further entrench the right of the media to report independently and objectively; expresses, in this regard, its concern about the judicial case involving Rustavi2 TV and stresses that any ruling should not undermine the editorial independence of the station as was the case unfortunately during the previous legislature;

35.  Welcomes the constructive role and recommendations submitted by OSCE/ODIHR in its Trial Monitoring Report Georgia of 9 December 2014, and stresses that it is of the utmost importance to address the shortcomings identified therein in order to counter the perception of selective justice; welcomes, in this respect, the adoption of the automatic judicial review of pre-trial detention which was one of the key recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR;

36.  Stresses that freedom of the media, freedom of expression and plurality of information are the fundamental values of a democratic society, to which Georgia has committed in the framework of the AA/DCFTA; emphasises that monopolisation of the media space inevitably leads to the erosion of the plurality of opinion and leaves no space for political competition and calls on the authorities to ensure a sustainable and pluralistic media and information landscape;

37.  Recalls the statement of September 22 2015 by the Venice Commission on the undue pressure exerted on judges of the constitutional court of Georgia and calls on the Government of Georgia to take appropriate action including adequate measures to protect the members of the court and their family members, to investigate fully all acts of intimidation and to bring to justice the perpetrators;

38.  Recalls furthermore the importance of the October 2012 and October 2013 OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Missions, in which Parliament participated, and calls for the bipartisan adoption of an electoral reform roadmap, taking into account the principled position that no major changes to the electoral law should be made in the year preceding elections;

39.  Calls on all sides to allow the safe and dignified return of all IDPs to their place of permanent residence in the occupied territories of the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/ South Ossetia and reiterates that forced demographic change remains an unacceptable violation of international law; acknowledges the need to maintain assistance for improving the situation of IDPs and refugees and welcomes EU initiatives in remaining actively engaged in providing necessary help;

40.  Calls on the Russian Federation to fulfil its obligations under the Ceasefire Agreement of 12 August 2008 and the Implementing Measures of 8 September 2008 to withdraw all its military forces and to allow the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) full access to the occupied territories; calls furthermore for Russia to reciprocate the commitment to the non-use of force vis-à-vis Georgia and to allow the establishment of international security arrangements; calls on Russia to reverse its recognition of the separation of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and to end the occupation of those Georgian territories;

41.  Welcomes the fact that Georgia is taking steps in adopting a flexible and pragmatic approach towards engagement with its occupied territories; calls on the EU to likewise consider reaching out to civil society in particular in these territories; highlights in this respect the added value provided by EU-funded initiatives such as the Confidence Building Early Response Mechanism (COBERM);

42.  Condemns resolutely the recent acts of vandalism and attacks on many offices of the main opposition party; calls for a swift and thorough investigation and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice;


43.  Expresses its deep concern at the ongoing political crisis affecting the country after the fall of the government that was formed in July 2015 based on a broad coalition that confirmed the pro-European course of the country;

44.  Takes the view that this deep crisis is harming the European perspective of Moldova and deplores the use of the genuine European aspirations of the Moldovan people by some politicians and political forces to conceal their own opaque ends and non-transparent practices aimed at slowing down the pace of reforms;

45.  Expresses concern over Moldova’s financial and banking sector that poses a risk to the stable economic development of the country; reiterates the fact that in order to enhance public credibility in the reform process, Moldovan institutions need to address the ongoing situation in the banking sector by ensuring full transparency of the inquiries, recovery of all stolen liquid assets and the bringing before justice of all the persons responsible; highlights that these measures are absolutely crucial to restore confidence in the Moldovan banking sector;

46.  Calls, in this respect, on the Commission to monitor closely the ongoing judicial investigations and provide the Moldovan authorities with the expertise and assistance necessary to carry out and complete the inquiry if need be;

47.  Stresses furthermore the need for Moldova to address with renewed strength the fight against corruption, the reform of the judiciary and the issue of governance and transparency; invites therefore the new government to tackle these problems as an absolute priority; hopes that the entry into force of the new law on party financing can contribute to this end;

48.  Draws attention to the efforts and the amount of resources needed for a gradual approximation of the Moldovan legislation with the EU acquis; welcomes therefore the substantial increase in EU assistance provided to the Republic of Moldova in recent years, with up to EUR 410 million available for the period 2014-2017 and the possibility to receive additional funding in the light of progress achieved in the area of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental freedom; underlines, however, that EU financing should be based on tangible and measurable progress in the areas concerned and that implementation of projects should take into account the principles of transparency, efficiency and sound management; welcomes, furthermore, the bilateral assistance provided by Member States and encourages all donors to coordinate the programming of their assistance;

49.  Welcomes the successful implementation of the visa-free regime as well as the progress achieved in the cooperation in the field of energy; stresses the need to reduce energy dependency from Russia and diversify supply sources; calls on the Moldovan Parliament, in this respect, to promptly adopt the legislation in compliance with the Third Energy Package;

50.  Calls for a comprehensive reform of the media sector and for full transparency of media ownership; expresses concern, in this regard, about the current oligopolies and a lack of genuine competition and calls for the adoption of a stringent law on the conflict of interests;

51.  Welcomes furthermore the participation of Moldova in an increasing number of EU programmes as well as the amended regulation on Autonomous Trade Preferences that help Moldova, which is subject to import bans on its agricultural products, to reorient its export markets to the EU, thus providing immediate social and economic relief while also representing a support measure for the reform process and efforts;

52.  Calls on Chisinau and Tiraspol to intensify their efforts to find an effective solution for the settlement of the Transnistria issue in the framework of the 5+2 talks and to take concrete steps to improve the livelihoods of the population; encourages the negotiating parties to agree on a renewed direct dialogue and to convene a new round of 5+2 talks during the course of 2016;

53.  Welcomes the decision of Parliament’s Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group to select Moldova as a priority country for parliamentary capacity-building; underlines the fact that the corresponding programme should focus on the ability of the Moldovan parliament to fulfil its role effectively in the implementation of the Association Agreement;

54.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, to the presidents, the governments and the parliaments of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, to the president, the government and the parliament of the Russian Federation, and to the OSCE.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0272.

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