A draft report containing the European Parliament's recommendations to the European Commission, the EU Council and the European External Action Service (EEAS) proposes signing an association agreement with Ukraine by the end of this year and ratifying the document by the end of the next year.

The text was prepared by MEP Ryszard Antoni Legutko (Poland, the Group of European Conservatives and Reformists) and obtained by Interfax-Ukraine in Brussels on Wednesday.

"[The EP recommends] that all necessary progress be made in order to achieve the rapid conclusion of an EU-Ukraine Association Agreement by no later than the end of 2011, to strive for the signing of the agreement by the [EU] Council during the first half of 2012, and to make all documents relevant to the ratification process available to the European Parliament and to the national parliaments by no later than the end of 2012," reads the main part of the draft report.

In addition, it is recommended that Ukraine be provided with sufficient financial, technical and legal assistance during the implementation process of the agreement, that the creation of a High Level EU Advisory Group to Ukraine be considered to assist the country in its efforts to align with EU legislation, that a mutual exchange program for civil servants be set up in order to facilitate the implementation of the Association Agreement, and in particular the deep and comprehensive free trade area, and that as soon as possible in Ukraine an EU information office be opened, which will work both to raise awareness among the Ukrainian public of the functioning of the European Union and its policies and values, and to facilitate greater participation in EU programs.

In the section entitled "Institutional Aspects/Political Dialogue," it is recommended that the existing framework of cooperation between the EU and Ukraine on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms be strengthened.

It is recommended that clear benchmarks for the implementation of the Association Agreement and provide monitoring mechanisms be included, including the provision of regular reports to the European Parliament; and that a dispute-settlement mechanism in the agreement can be used in the event of violations of fundamental freedoms or of the rule of law, assessed on the basis of clear benchmarks. The rapporteur also stresses the importance of the ratification by Ukraine of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in the process of constitutional reform. He also proposes taking the necessary actions to ensure there is an enhanced dialogue between the EU and all political parties, and encourage inter-party dialogue in Ukraine.

In the section entitled "Economic and Sector Cooperation," it is recommended to reinforce, within the framework of the agreement, cooperation between Ukraine and the EU in the field of energy; to strive for the conclusion of further agreements between the EU and Ukraine aimed at securing energy supplies for both sides, including a reliable and diversified transit system for oil and gas and a common response mechanism in case of disturbances or interruptions to oil and gas deliveries from Russia.

In the "Justice, Freedom and Security" section, the rapporteur recommends setting concrete deadlines for the establishment of a visa-free regime between Ukraine and the European Union rather than maintaining a long-term perspective, provided that Ukraine fulfils the necessary technical criteria set out in the action plan on visa liberalization; to establish the intermediate objective of abolishing existing visa fees; and to introduce special measures during the Euro 2012 European Football Championship, with a view to using this special occasion as a testing period for a visa-free regime.

In the introductory part, the rapporteur says that the future Association Agreement with Ukraine heralds a new generation of association agreements and involves an unprecedented level of integration between the European Union and a third country. Ukraine commits itself to implementing a large portion of European legislation. Ukraine, as a European state and pursuant to Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, may also apply for membership of the EU, as can any European state, provided it adheres to the principles of democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law; whereas the conclusion of an EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, including a DCFTA, will be a major step in Ukraine's European integration process.

The rapporteur also believes that the framework provided by the Association Agreement will constitute a crucial modernization tool for Ukraine and a roadmap to steer its internal domestic reforms. In addition, the Association Agreement will have a positive impact on the business climate in Ukraine, since it provides EU and Ukrainian business actors with common rules and standards and therefore increases the predictability of investments in Ukraine; whereas this positive impact will be further strengthened by the full and effective implementation of anti-corruption law.

He also said that Russia "is exercising excessive pressure on Ukraine not to establish a DCFTA with the European Union but instead to join a Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan."


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