Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Adopted report on agreements between the EU and the Eastern European Partners

on trade agreements between the EU and the Eastern European Partners, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas, and EU assistance in this field

The EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly,

–having regard to the Joint Communication from the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 25 May 2011 on A new response to a changing Neighbourhood (COM(2011)0303),

–having regard to the development of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) since 2004, and in particular to the Commission’s progress reports on its implementation,

–having regard to the Action Plans adopted jointly with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova, and to the Association Agenda with Ukraine,

–having regard to the EP recommendations for negotiations of Association agreements with Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and the European Parliament resolution on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy - Eastern Dimension of 7 April 2011,

–having regard to the conclusions of the Eastern Partnership Foreign Ministers’ meeting of 13 December 2010,

–having regard to the Joint Declarations of the Prague Eastern Partnership Summit of 7 May 2009 and of the Warsaw Eastern Partnership summit of 29-30 September 2011,

–having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1638/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 2006 laying down general provisions establishing a European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) ,

–having regard to its Constituent Act of 3 May 2011,

A.whereas the cooperation in the framework of the EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly aims at bringing about positive effects by serving as a platform to exchange views, find common positions on global challenges of our times with respect to democracy, politics, economics, energy security and social affairs, and strengthen ties between the countries of the region and with the EU;

B.whereas within the ENP the Eastern Partnership has created a meaningful political framework for deepening relations, accelerating political association and furthering economic integration, which are linked by strong geographical, historical and cultural ties, by supporting political and socioeconomic reforms and facilitating approximation with the EU acquis;

C.whereas the Eastern Partnership strengthens multilateral relations between the countries involved, contributes to the exchange of information and experience on the issues of transformation, reform and modernisation, and provides the European Union with additional instruments to support these processes;

D.whereas the Eastern Partnership provides for strengthening of bilateral relations by means of new Association Agreements, taking into account the specific situation and ambition of the partner country and its ability to comply with the resulting commitments;

E.whereas trade between the European Union and its Eastern European Partners has been evolving in a dynamic way, covering more and more areas of cooperation and gradually deepening economic integration and whereas in order to govern the geometry of ever-close trade relations, both the EU and the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries have recognised the need to establishing between them an enhanced contractual framework intended to upgrade the existing trade agreements;

F.whereas the new free trade arrangements (DCFTAs) will be deep and comprehensive in terms of their nature, scope and level of engagement, thus going beyond and above the traditional FTAs encompassing both liberalisation of trade in goods and of trade in services and investments based on the respective WTO principles and covering other trade-related areas including intellectual property rights, customs, public procurement, energy-related issues, competition, transparency, energy and sustainable development;

G.whereas the establishment of the DCFTA provides a broad spectrum of potential benefits to the contracting parties; whereas however most of these benefits will result from a synergy between the DCFTA and the approximation process provided for by the Association Agreement;

H.whereas trade with the EU represents a substantial part of international trade flows and whereas the economies of the EaP countries are dependent on it;

1.Is of the opinion that the EaP countries are culturally and historically closely linked to the European Union, sharing a European heritage and values, and recognises their will to economically integrate with the EU;

2.Underlines the significance of common standards for goods and services within the internal market of the European Union, which are at the core of European integration; believes therefore in the necessity for the Eastern Partnership countries to strive to achieve coherence with these standards in order to deepen cooperation in trade relations between the parties;

3.Welcomes the recent EU decisions to launch negotiations on DCFTA with Armenia, Georgia and Moldova; stresses that DCFTAs present an excellent vehicle for progress towards the economic integration of the EU with EaP countries that, if correctly applied and their provisions duly fulfilled, might further result in political integration of EaP countries with the EU; therefore calls on EU and EaP countries to intensify cooperation in order to accelerate the negotiations on the DCFTAs, opening negotiations with those countries which are prepared to do so, while initialling, signing and ratifying agreements with those that have already completed their DCFTA negotiations;

4.Proposes that the countries of the EaP which are not members of the World Trade Organisation complete the negotiations and join the WTO promptly as a necessary step to deepen convergence with the EU markets via the DCFTAs;

5.Urges the World Trade Organization to accelerate and speedily finalize the negotiation process with the Eastern Partner countries which are not members of the WTO and stresses the importance of this membership for the setting in the nearest future the common trade principles of the Eastern Partner countries with the EU Member States;

6.Emphasizes the need to ensure that the DCFTA negotiations recently launched with the Eastern Partner countries are conducted in a fair and transparent manner, placing due emphasis on long term sustainable development objectives, including improved competition and reduced corruption;

7.Draws attention to the shared interest of the European Union in helping the Eastern Partnership countries to pursue long-term stable and sound economic growth and to establish a modern economic governance, which can be achieved by linking the economies of the Eastern Partnership countries with the common market of the European Union via DCFTAs; underlines the fact that the DCFTA is crucial and essential to a modern, transparent and predictable trade, as well as to foreign direct investments leading to job creation and long term growth;

8.Deplores the insufficient funds and the protracted absence of a consistent EU policy towards the Eastern Partnership countries compared to other areas of the European Neighbourhood; points out that over the past two decades the pursuit of such a consistent policy towards some of the members of the former Council for Mutual Economic Assistance has yielded very positive results, including the current EU membership of several of them; in this regard draws attention to the negative aspects of this absence, resulting in increased migration, greater corruption and the weakness of democratic institutions in the EaP countries;

9.Calls for an enhanced dialogue between the EU and EaP partners, including technical and financial support, in topical trade-related sectors, particularly technical barriers to trade, including food safety and phytosanitary issues, customs issues, standardisation, conformity assessment, trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, etc.;
0.Encourages integration of the economies of the Eastern Partnership countries with the economies of the European Union; highlights that this may facilitate further political integration with the EU;
1.Stresses that DCFTAs should form an integral part of broader association agreements including provisions on political dialogue on human rights, democratic values and the rule of law;
2.Stresses that deeper market integration between the EU and the EaP countries could contribute to stimulating economic growth in both areas, in eliminating regional economic imbalances and social inequalities in these countries, and therefore enhance the welfare of their respective populations, a significant outcome in particular in a time of global economic crisis;
3.Underlines the fact that negotiations on the DCFTA with the European Union are linked directly to a wide-ranging programme of economic reforms of the countries which can be painful for some sectors of their economies in the short term but, provided that it is well implemented, is intended to create a properly-functioning market, allowing strong economic growth in the long term; urges authorities of the EaP countries to make progress in meeting Association Agreement requirements provided by the Commission and ensure that necessary progress is also achieved in demonopolisation, market liberalization and strengthening the rule of law;

14.Emphasises that regulatory approximation to the EU acquis, a key means of making the FTA “deep and comprehensive”, requires substantial changes in the very foundations of the EaP states and societies and the patterns of their legal and economic cultures;

15.Draws attention to the asymmetry in the DCFTAs with the EaP countries due to the respective sizes of the markets of the EaP countries and the EU market and the level of their development; therefore stresses that the “more for more” approach should be the basis for moving forward in DCFTA negotiations;

16.Calls for the establishment of a sound system of verification of the implementation of technical commitments accepted by the EaP countries during the DCFTA negotiations, both within the country concerned and in the EU institutions; highlights the possibility of sharing information between the EaP countries on best practices in the implementation of technical standards;

17.Calls for the European Union to contribute to addressing the burden of financial and technical aid to reform the economies of the EaP countries in order to make them consistent with EU standards; proposes in this regard making good use of twinning programs and TAIEX assistance between the various entities in the EU Member States and their counterparts in the EaP countries in order to spread know-how;

18.Draws attention to the spillover potential of good practices channelled through the Eastern Partnership programme into the EaP countries through the knock-out effect on their direct non-EU neighbourhood;

19.Recommends seeking to further improve the level of legal and technical standards in the EaP countries, which is necessary in order to create the potential to deepen economic cooperation between the EaP countries and the EU Member States;

20.Calls for an ambitious approach and a wider vision of integrating economies of the EU and the EaP through DCFTAs by not only including a wide spectrum of aspects linked to free trade, like phytosanitary measures and trade branding but also aspects of regulatory approximation and environmental protection and sustainable development; stresses in this regard the importance of including binding sustainable development chapters in the DCFTAs, including provisions on environmental protection and international labour rights, and stresses the significance of drafting accompanying Association Agreements linked to the political reality of the countries concerned;

21.Draws attention to the successful examples of economic integration among countries in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Western Balkans, which could to a large extent be taken as a model by the EU in relation to Eastern Partnership countries; emphasizes, at the same time, the necessity to differentiate the approaches, needs, perspectives and opportunities between Mediterranean and Eastern dimensions;

22.Considers that European ambitions of an EaP country should be evaluated on the basis of differentiation and "more for more principles" and an eventual application for accession should be treated individually accordingly with the provision of Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union;

23.Recommends including access for EaP agricultural products in the DCFTAs, as in most of the EaP countries agriculture plays a significant role in the structure of their economies and a possibility of better access to the EU market for agricultural goods remains a key priority for the Eastern Partners;

24.Supports the idea of launching the European Neighbouring Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) which could be developed based on the experience of the SAPARD Programme offered early to the Central and South-Eastern European countries;

25.Welcomes the constant inter-country communication within the EURONEST PA (to exchange trade-related concerns and to hammer out common positions) and within the EURONEST Committees (on specific trade-related developments between the EU and the Eastern European partners); welcomes the sharing experience in the framework of the EURONEST PA, which has a positive effect on the internal and external dimensions of cooperation between EaP members;

26.Calls the national parliaments of the Eastern European Partners to accelerate the process of harmonization of the national economic legislations with the aquis communitaire and supports the nationals parliaments in enacting the DCFTA-related reforms by adopting relevant recommendations; encourages the setting-up of multilateral working groups to assist each other in regulatory approximation across the whole spectrum of the EU acquis related to trade;

27.Is of the opinion that the key instruments of EU trade policy vis-à-vis the EaP countries should be applied in a targeted and result-oriented manner;

28.Supports the provision of a system to monitor the impact of the EU’s external trade policy on the national trade policies of the DCFTA partners, which should enable civil society and business voices to be heard;

29.Instructs its Co-Presidents to forward this resolution to the President of the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EEAS, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Eastern Partnership countries.

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