Full text 
Procedure : 2011/2306(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0183/2012

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 02/07/2012 - 26
CRE 02/07/2012 - 26

Votes :

PV 03/07/2012 - 6.11
CRE 03/07/2012 - 6.11
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


Verbatim report of proceedings
Monday, 2 July 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

26. Trade aspects of the Eastern partnership (short presentation)
Video of the speeches

  President. – The next item is the report by Miloslav Ransdorf, on behalf of the Committee on International Trade, on trade aspects of the Eastern partnership (2011/2306(INI)) (A7-0183/2012).


  Miloslav Ransdorf, rapporteur. – Mr President, first of all, I will express my deep gratitude to my dear colleagues and the representatives of the Commission for their participation late into the night.

I will explain the sense and meaning of the report: it is to promote and strengthen the rule of law and civil society in the respective countries of the Eastern partnership.

We worked as a collective in preparing 142 amendments and we were able to accommodate in them some compromise amendments. At practically the very last minute, Mr Cutaş, on behalf of the Group of Socialists and Democrats, prepared two oral amendments which are acceptable to me. I have no problem in accepting these two amendments and I will explain why.

The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) is a very important tool in this trading and economic area, but I can also imagine other trading strategies. Therefore, I am in favour of this proposal, despite the fact that it has been proposed at the last minute.

Georgia also features in the amendments proposed by Mr Cutaş on behalf of the S&D Group. Georgia has been accused of violation of the rights of children, using child labour. Perhaps we do not have any public evidence of this, but the protection of the rights of children is my number one priority. Therefore, I have no problem in accepting this oral amendment presented by Mr Cutaş.

However, I have to remark that Georgia’s President, Mr Saakashvili – a very good friend of the United States of America and a respected democrat – has been accepted here very warmly in Parliament. You will perhaps remember when he made a speech here in Parliament.

That is practically all I have to say about this report. Finally, I would say that a parliamentary speech should be like a woman’s skirt – long enough to cover the subject and short enough to be attractive. I know that I am not able to fulfil this ideal goal.


Catch-the-eye procedure


  Marek Henryk Migalski (ECR).(PL) Mr President, I am very pleased that this subject is being raised. The report contains a number of very good things: it reiterates the ‘more for more’ principle, and it makes clear that Russia has been trying to undermine these negotiations – something which is going to have disastrous consequences. This is an important declaration, and it is also a political declaration.

The report also includes information about the way individual countries are coping with the situation. Well, some are doing better, such as Georgia – you referred to Georgia, Mr Ransdorf – and others are doing worse, such as Belarus, and I think I am right in saying that this is a matter of great concern both to you, Mr President, and to all of us here. However, the fact that this cooperation is significant and important – alongside the political and social cooperation – is worth emphasising, and I think this is the most important thing to emerge from this document. Let us get the countries of the Eastern Partnership to work with us, because this is important for them, and it is also important for us.


  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D).(RO) Mr President, I think the cooperation between the European Union and its Eastern partners needs to be strengthened in a number of sectors, in particular, industry, SMEs, research, development and innovation, information technology, and communications and tourism.

I welcome the accession of Ukraine and Moldova to the Treaty establishing the Energy Community, in view of its potentially vital role in terms of ensuring the achievement of the EU’s energy security objectives and contributing to security for those countries. I call for enhanced cooperation between the European Union and Ukraine in the energy sector, for integration of the Ukrainian energy sector into the European energy sector, and for the initiation of joint modernisation and development projects in the energy infrastructure sphere.

I call on the Commission to further develop the EU Black Sea strategy, as it represents an important component of the EU’s external energy strategy, given its strategic role, which offers a significant potential for energy security and diversification of energy supply routes and sources in the European Union.


  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE).(PL) Mr President, it is important for the European Union to support the countries of the Eastern Partnership, and also to talk about their European aspirations and ways in which we can facilitate integration. It is essential to create the conditions which are necessary to accelerate the process of political association with these countries and to enhance economic integration between the European Union and interested partner countries in recognition of the economic benefits of expanding trade in goods and services. Strengthening the Eastern Partnership, and this includes increasing its funding, is also necessary now, when the Union is having to face an economic crisis and is involved in building a new strategy for its southern neighbours. We should welcome the initialling of a free trade agreement between the EU and Ukraine, and also the initialling of the EU-Ukraine association agreement. Unfortunately, these agreements have still not been signed due to problems over respect for the principles of law and order in Ukraine.


  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, the progressive liberalisation of trade exchanges with Eastern Partnership countries should be the natural consequence of political cooperation. It could make an important contribution to economic recovery, encouraging democratic reforms, as well as energy security.

In this context, I call on the Commission once more to table the EU Black Sea strategy as soon as possible. I would also like to point out the importance of connecting the Eastern Partnership countries to the European infrastructure, especially as regards the energy sector. I should mention that Romania is very active in this area. Romania has launched the AGRI Interconnector project for the transportation of natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, through Georgia and the Black Sea. At the same time, Romania is running several projects in cooperation with the Republic of Moldova – the Ungheni-Iaşi gas pipeline and the Fălciu-Goteşti and Suceava-Bălţi electric lines – aimed at interconnecting energy systems, and consolidating or rebuilding bridges over the Prut River.


  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Mr President, in our debates on the Eastern Partnership, it seems to me that we often place key emphasis on teaching our partners how they should be running their own countries. However, we frequently fail to mobilise the economic potential of cooperation.

Our nearest important eastern neighbour is Ukraine. Greater openness in cooperation with this country would deliver a significant economic boost to Europe. I firmly believe that if we managed to overcome visa restrictions, many Ukrainians would be willing to travel to southern Europe or to Spain, Greece and Italy, and would be delighted to get to know these parts of Europe as tourists. This would mean jobs for people in badly affected regions of the EU. On the other hand, the well-placed Ukrainian middle classes are able to buy large quantities of products from European producers.

Unfortunately, such travel and exchange of goods is limited or restricted by certain political barriers. We should therefore try to overcome these restrictions and encourage cooperation.


End of the catch-the-eye procedure


  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, honourable Members, it is a pleasure to discuss with you the EU’s trade policy towards our Eastern neighbours.

I would like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Ransdorf, for having taken the initiative of this report, as well as all the honourable Members who have participated in the constructive discussions on the text. It covers not only trade in goods but also cooperation in other related fields, for example, investment protection, streamlining customs and border procedures, reducing technical and other non-tariff barriers to trade, strengthening sanitary and phytosanitary rules and other measures.

As you know, the last months have been particularly important for our trade relations with most of our Eastern partners. The negotiations on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (in short, a DCFTA) with Ukraine were completed in December and the two parties intend to proceed to the initialling of the DCFTA text on 16 July, once the current legal review of the text is finalised.

It is now up to Ukraine to create the overall political conditions which will allow its signature and ratification. In any case, I want to stress that there cannot be provisional application of the association agreement and, for that matter, of the DCFTA provisions, before the decision concerning the signature of the association agreement and before Parliament has given its view.

The first part of this year has also seen important progress of our bilateral relations with Moldova, Georgia and Armenia; three partners with whom DCFTA negotiations have been launched. The negotiations advanced well, thanks to the thorough preparatory process carried out over the past years. It is now key that throughout the negotiations, the pace of reform started during the preparation phase is maintained.

Indeed, the negotiations of a DCFTA are still only the beginning of a long process of reform. With Belarus and Azerbaijan, the Commission is committed to pursuing a similar agenda as with the other Eastern partners. However, the Commission considers that WTO membership and basic reforms in the trade and trade-related part of the economies of the partner countries are the prerequisite for an enhanced trade agenda.

The decision to enter into trade negotiations should depend on the real capacity of the trade partner to effectively implement DCFTA conditions. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan and Belarus do not currently comply with these conditions and do not currently dispose of such a capacity.

Let me, however, stress that our bilateral trade relations with the Eastern partners cannot be separated from the broader political context in which they operate. This message applies across the board to all our neighbours. I wish to recall that this is also in line with the basic principles of the Eastern partnership, according to which DCFTAs are an integral part of the broader association agreements and therefore cannot be envisaged in isolation.

Given the human rights situation, Belarus only participates in the multilateral track of the Eastern partnership.

I believe that overall, the report prepared by the rapporteur, Mr Ransdorf, reflects well the fact that Parliament and the Commission share the same views on trade relations with our Eastern partners. I take the numerous amendments proposed, as well as the large support in favour of the report, as proof of Parliament’s commitment to promoting stronger bilateral trade ties with our Eastern neighbours.

I welcome very much the role played by the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, which is very supportive in this respect. I can assure you that the Commission fully agrees on the need to promote an ambitious trade agenda as a vector of reform for our Eastern partners and shares the willingness to drive such an agenda forward. We all know that this will not be an easy task. Therefore, it will be essential that Parliament and the Commission continue working in very close cooperation.


  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow (Tuesday, 3 July 2012).

Written statements (Rule 149)


  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing.(RO) The revolutionary movements of 2011 in North Africa have shifted the focus of interest towards the southern dimension of the neighbourhood policy, to the detriment of the Eastern Partnership. I think the European Union’s relationships with its Eastern partners must be strengthened, in particular, by means of association agreements. They can be an efficient tool for persuading participating states to adopt major reforms aimed at making their respective political regimes more democratic. At the same time, the efforts aimed at establishing democracy are directly conditional upon improving the citizens’ living conditions, creating a strong civil society, guaranteeing press freedom and strengthening democratic institutions. In this respect, I welcome the establishment in 2008, within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, of an institution dedicated to the civil society, which encourages dialogue between the governments participating in this programme and civil society. However, a certain lack of conformity as regards the respect of the rights of workers persists in states such as Georgia, where child exploitation through work is still a reality. Ukraine is another example of a partner state with a faulty judicial system, which prevents the conclusion of the association agreement with this state. For this reason, I call on our Eastern partners to support internal reforms that offer them increased external credibility.


  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing.(RO) The European Union’s relationship with its Eastern partners is extremely important, both economically and socially. We need to give the pragmatic aspect of these relationships its proper place, beyond the aspects related to the human rights and the respect for the principles of the rule of law. By creating Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas, we can encourage partner states to pursue the reforms already under way, so as to achieve a stable and predictable economic environment where the democratic principles underpinning the European Union are respected. Moreover, we can facilitate alignment to EU regulations by progressively removing the barriers to trade at a time when Russia and China are gradually increasing their presence in the region. The cooperation between the EU and its Eastern partners needs to be enhanced in fields such as research, development and innovation, ICT and tourism. Therefore, I welcome the Commission’s proposal concerning the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020, which aims at a 40% rise in the funding available for the neighbourhood policy. I also hope that the EU Black Sea strategy will be further developed, as it represents an important component of the EU’s external energy strategy and given its concrete perspectives regarding energy security consolidation and supply diversification.

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