Yesterday in the parliament's foreign affairs committee, European Conservatives and Reformists Vice-President MEP Ryszard Legutko presented his recommendations to the Council, the Commission and the EU's External Action Service on the negotiations on the EU's Association Agreement with Ukraine.

The agreement with Ukraine is the first agreement with an Eastern Partnership country that has almost been completed and Professor Legutko believes it will help promote Ukraine's European aspirations which many ECR members - including the ECR head of the Parliament's Ukraine delegation, Pawel Kowal MEP, support.

Legutko underlined the crucial importance of this association agreement and the importance that the European Parliament delivers a clear, coherent message concerning the ongoing negotiations.

"Ukraine is at a crossroads and has a choice to make; the Ukrainian authorities have made it very clear in the past few months that they want to make a European choice. At the same time, however, several recent events have raised concerns in the EU, including in this House, about the compliance of Ukraine with principles that are essential to the EU. I am referring more specifically to the ongoing trial against former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko and the negative perception it gives of the Ukrainian judicial system," he said, press office of European Conservatives and Reformists Group reported.

"But I also believe that the association agreement will anchor Ukraine to the European Union and its principles and will constitute a tool and a roadmap for Ukraine to steer its, sometimes much-needed, internal reforms. I believe it will give our bilateral relations a more efficient framework for dialogue and will provide us with tools to follow the commitments made by Ukraine under this agreement, including on the respect of our fundamental values," he added.

The draft report formulates recommendations to the Council, the Commission and the EEAS, and focuses on:

1) A strong support for a rapid conclusion of the ongoing negotiations and a swift signature of the agreement;

2) The need of sufficient financial and human resources on the part of the EU to assist Ukraine in the implementation process. Implementing parts of the acquis communautaire that should be included in the association agreement will be a very costly and demanding procedure for Ukraine. Therefore, the report focuses not only on financial support, but also on the exchange of civil servants, and of technical and legal experts.

3) The need for the EU to commit itself to accompany the reforms in Ukraine; on the other hand, it is important that Ukraine respects its own commitments, with clear benchmarks to assess this. Therefore, the draft report insists on the necessity of developing the means to monitor the ongoing implementation.

4) The importance to engage Ukrainian citizens and civil society as much as possible because, otherwise, it will be easy to lose the core of what real integration between Ukraine and the EU should be; therefore the report includes the rapid establishment of a visa-free regime to increase people-to-people contacts.

"I believe that the association agreement, especially if it respects the different recommendations of our report, will provide a solution to the negative trends that we are witnessing these days in Ukraine," Professor Legutko summed up.

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