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News

20 September 2018, 16:04

8th EU-Ukraine PAC meeting: Final statement and recommendations

( Information Department of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Secretariat )

EU-UKRAINE PARLIAMENTARY ASSOCIATION COMMITTEE

Eighth Meeting 17-18 September 2018 (Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk)

FINAL STATEMENT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

pursuant to Article 467(3) of the Association Agreement


The eighth meeting of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee (PAC) was held in Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk on 17-18 September 2018, co-chaired by Mykola Kniazhytskyi on behalf of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and Dariusz Rosati on behalf of the European Parliament. The Parliamentary Association Committee, having considered the state of play of EU- Ukraine relations, the implementation of the Association Agreement and the overall security and political situation in Ukraine, agreed upon the following final statement and recommendations. The Parliamentary Association Committee (PAC):

On the overall security and humanitarian situation

1. Reiterates its strong support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders; recalls its strong condemnation of Russia’s aggressive and expansionist policy, which has resulted in the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and the occupation of some regions of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, in breach of international law and agreements as well as of Russia’s commitments and obligations within its membership in international organisations; reiterates its shared determination to achieve the peaceful reintegration of these territories; underlines the serious implications of this armed aggression for overall security in Europe;

2. Expresses its deepest concerns at the further deterioration of the security situation in the east of Ukraine, including an increased Russian military presence in the Azov Sea and the blocking of ships following the construction of the Kerch bridge; regrets that no progress has been made in the implementation of the Minsk agreements; condemns the decision of illegal occupation authorities to hold so called elections on 11 November 2018 in violation of Minsk agreements and calls on the Russian Federation and the illegal armed formations it backs to fully  honour  their commitments under  these agreements;

3. Welcomes the extension of EU restrictive measures against the Russian Federation but reiterates its call for a stronger EU strategy and engagement in the conflict resolution; believes that the EU should make ambitious proposals regarding its own role in the settlement of the conflict, such as the appointment of an EU special envoy for the situation in the east of Ukraine and Crimea; expresses support to the deployment of a UN-led peace-keeping mission in the Donbas, which would cover the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, including Ukrainian-Russian border;

4. Takes note of the findings on the downing of flight MH17 presented by the Joint Investigation Team on 24 May 2018, which concluded that the BUK installation used to bring down the flight belonged to the armed forces of the Russian Federation, and calls on the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility in the downing and to fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability;

5. Recalls that there are almost 1.8 million internally displaced persons in Ukraine and that 4.4 million people are affected by Russia’s military aggression, 3.4 million of whom require humanitarian assistance and protection; welcomes the final adoption of the law on the legal status of missing persons; calls on the European Commission to increase assistance to IDPs; expresses deep concern at the fact that, as a consequence of Russian aggression, Ukraine has one of the highest numbers of anti-vehicle-mine casualties in the world, and supports the establishment of a national anti-mine center in Ukraine; deplores that food insecurity has doubled since 2016 – with 1.2 million people food insecure – and that the armed aggression has given rise to mounting cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and HIV; believes that a humanitarian disaster of this magnitude on European soil would command much greater political attention and financial commitments; while clearly underlining the responsibility of the Russian Federation and the illegal armed formations it backs, calls on the Ukrainian authorities to undertake additional efforts to alleviate the suffering of the population affected by the conflict, including support for IDPs, war veterans, and to step up efforts to facilitate access to pensions and social benefits and services for those living in the territories currently outside the government’s control;

6. Urges Russia-backed illegal armed formations to ensure unhindered, safe and secure access throughout the whole non-government controlled area for all humanitarian organisations as well as for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (OSCE SMM);

7. Reiterates its concern at the aggravating environmental consequences of the military aggression of Russia in the east of Ukraine and in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea which is illegally occupied by Russia, for which the  recent toxic spill at the Northern Crimean chemical plant is just the newest evidence; calls on the Ukrainian authorities and on the EU to support the implementation of the relevant joint recommendations of the Ukrainian government and OSCE; deplores the systematic and growing attacks against water filtration stations, notably the Donetsk one and calls for a special mechanism to preserve these stations and therefore ensure full water supply to people on both sides of the contact line; is deeply concerned about the possible flooding of mines and demands a proper maintenance and water pumping at the mines;

8. Reiterates its disappointment at the fact that, four years after the illegal annexation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, no concrete proposal for an international format of negotiations on de-occupation of the peninsula has been discussed in international  fora, despite repeated calls by the European Parliament and by this Committee; expresses dismay at the further deterioration of the human rights situation in Crimea, particularly for Crimean Tatars; welcomes the addition of five persons involved in the organisation of Russian presidential elections in Crimea and Sevastopol as well as of six entities due to their involvement in the construction of the Kerch bridge on the EU sanctions list; strongly condemns the visits of European politicians to Crimea, which are in violation of the EU non-recognition policy; invites the EU Council to consider introducing sanctions with regard to persons responsible for violations of human rights in the occupied Crimea;

9. Stresses the importance of supporting especially vulnerable groups and individuals on the Crimean Peninsula, such as Crimean Tatars who are constant victims of repressions, discrimination and violation of human rights; recalls that Crimean Tatars are excluded from the political scene in Crimea and were forbidden from their institutional activities in the Mejlis and the Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People; 10. Condemns, furthermore, the political persecution of Ukrainian citizens illegally detained in Russia and the occupied Crimea, and urges their immediate release, in line with the European Parliament’s resolution of 14 June 2018; expresses particular concern at the situation of Oleg Sentsov;

On EU-Ukraine relations

11. Recalls the major achievements in EU-Ukraine relations, namely the entry into force of the visa-free regime on 11 June 2017 and of the Association Agreement (AA) on 1 September 2017;welcomes the outcomes of the 20th Ukraine-EU Summit held in Brussels on 7 July 2018 in particular as regards deepening integration between Ukraine and the EU in the spheres of energy and digital markets, customs facilitation, justice and home affairs within the framework of AA/DCFTA; welcomes efforts of Ukraine to set up the institutional and monitoring system for the implementation of the Association Agreement; believes that a number of concrete improvements in the AA implementation can still be introduced before the next parliamentary elections, notably concerning the coordination between government and parliament, and the coordination and streamlining of AA implementation within the Verkhovna Rada; therefore encourages all stakeholders, with appropriate EU support, to implement such improvements in the months to come;

12. Welcomes the initiative of the Speakers of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Parliament of Georgia and the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova to establish an Inter-Parliamentary Assembly; considers the initiative a clear signal of the political resolve to strengthen relations between these three countries on their joint objectives, in particular the implementation of the AA/DCFTA; believes that associated countries, provided they commit to implementing the AAs and to respecting the principles of democracy, rule of law and fundamental freedoms, should be granted dedicated support mechanisms by the EU, including  those in the framework of the post-2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework – in line with the EP-advocated “Eastern Partnership Plus” model;

13. Stresses that the AA does not constitute the final goal of EU-Ukraine relations and welcomes Ukraine’s European aspirations; points out, in this respect, that Ukraine has a European perspective pursuant to Article 49 TEU, and may apply to become a member of the European Union provided that it adheres to the Copenhagen criteria and the principles of democracy, respects fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights, and upholds the rule of law;

14. Congratulates the Speaker and parliamentary party and faction leaders of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for their commitment to strengthening parliamentary dialogue in the format of the Jean Monnet Dialogue process; welcomes the first results of this dialogue in the establishment of a Working Group on Reforms, the implementation of institutional capacity- building and the adoption of the first institutional reform-oriented legislation; underlines the importance of making further progress and deepening a culture of parliamentary dialogue as a crucial step in making  the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine a more effective, transparent and efficient legislator in delivering on the citizens’ aspirations and the overall reform agenda including the implementation of the AA/DCFTA; 15. Welcomes the adoption of the decision of the EU to provide Ukraine with further macro- financial assistance of up to 1 billion EUR and reminds of the pre-conditions to be fulfilled, in particular regarding the fight against corruption, the respect of effective democratic mechanisms – including a multi-party parliamentary system – and of the rule of law, and the guarantee of respect for human rights; 16. Stresses the importance of intensifying the development of cross-border cooperation between Ukraine and the EU countries; calls for maximum efforts to develop the border infrastructure and to open new border crossing points in Western Ukraine, especially in the Carpathian region; supports cooperation of EU countries of Carpathian region with Ukraine, including pilot programmes on cross-border cooperation;

17. Welcomes the submission by the President Poroshenko of the Draft Law on amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine regarding the strategic course of Ukraine towards full-fledged membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation;

18. Stresses the importance of combatting Russia’s fake news and propaganda, including its expected meddling in upcoming elections in Ukraine, and of countering cyber threats; calls for Ukraine-EU cooperation in the field of strategic communications and cyber security to be strengthened;

On the reform process

19. Welcomes the progress on reforms in the areas of energy, health, public administration, pensions, education and de-centralization, public procurement, banking and financial sectors, defence and security, despite Russian aggression since 2014, including in the context of the AA implementation, and stresses that the pace of reforms should be maintained and in some critical areas even reinforced during the upcoming pre-election period;

20. Stresses the importance of further anti-corruption reforms and of ongoing EU support for the activities of anti-corruption institutions;

21. Warmly welcomes the adoption of the the Law "On the High Anti-Corruption Court" and the Law "On the Establishment of the High Anti-Corruption Court"; calls for selection of judges in accordance with the new law and the launching of the High Anti-Corruption Court without delay; supports the work done by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and stresses the necessity to preserve its independence; calls for effective investigation of allegations concerning the Head of the Specialized Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office; stresses that the fight against corruption goes far beyond the setting up of anti-corruption institutions and therefore welcomes the preventive efforts made in different sectors to close the space for corruption; believes that particular attention should be paid to promote zero tolerance policy for corruption and to anti-corruption education;

22. Reiterates its call to the Ukrainian Parliament to urgently abolish the provisions imposing e-declaration requirements for civil society activists working in the field of anti-corruption; strongly condemns physical attacks against civil rights activists as well as pressure on investigative journalists and emphasises the importance of effective investigations of all these attacks;

23. Emphasises the crucial importance of completing reform of the judiciary at all levels, including of the prosecutor-general office at central level; welcomes the creation of a State Bureau of Investigation; regrets the slow pace of progress in the investigations into the crimes committed during the Maidan protests, and the violent events in Odesa on 2 May 2014; looks forward to the full ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;

24. Reiterates its particular interest in seeing the Public Administration Reform fully implemented and underlines, therefore, the particular and primary importance of implementing the Public Administration Reform Strategy for 2016-2020; supports the establishment of the College of Europe branch in Ukraine; welcomes the already delivered achievements of Ukraine in the Public Administration Reform, in particular the success of ten pilot ministries as well as of all state institutions in implementing transparent competitions for public servants;

25. Stresses the importance of completing the reforms in the energy sector in order to be fully integrated into the EU energy Market, and to end existing monopolies, including the unbundling of Naftogaz, which will bring long-term economic benefits to industry and consumers; emphasises the key role of renewable energy development and improved energy efficiency, including as vectors of economic growth and employment; reaffirms the strategic role of Ukraine as partner country of the EU in the gas sector which provides affordable, safe and secure supplies to the EU; condemns the construction of the Nord Stream-2 project as a threat to European security; considers that all gas pipelines entering EU territory should be compliant with EU rules, be accessible to other operators and operated with the same levels of transparency; calls for enhancing energy cooperation within the Eastern Partnership, towards the implementation of 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement;

26. Recalls that environmental governance is a key feature of the Association Agreement requirements; asks the Ukrainian authorities to reconsider the agreement and any future plans concerning the Dniester Hydro Power Complex, to bring them in line with international conventions and EU standards; is concerned by the schemes of illegal exploitation of natural resources, such as amber, coal, sand and timber;

27. Emphasises that the Ukrainian authorities should devote greater attention to ensuring gender equality and the non-discrimination of people belonging to minorities, including national and sexual minorities, in line with the provisions of the AA and including in the field of education, where the Venice Commission recommendations should be fully implemented without further delay, taking into account the commitments taken at the 20th EU-Ukraine Summit, including legislation that extends the transition period until 2023 and which regulates exemption for private schools; encourages the Ukrainian authorities to pursue a constructive dialogue on education reform with representatives of national minorities; recognises the benefits of the Istanbul Convention for preventing and combating violence against women and protecting victims and calls for its speedy ratification by Ukraine; in this regard, takes into account the adoption of the Law on Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence; welcomes the creation of the position of the Government Commissioner for Gender Policy; deplores attacks against Roma people as well as hate crimes against the LGBTI community, calls on Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies to speed up the proceedings to bring those responsible to justice and calls for public condemnation of these acts and their perpetrators by the government;

28. Urges Ukrainian authorities to ensure that any extradition request coming from third countries are processed in a transparent manner while following judicial procedures fully in line with European principles and standards, and that all actions taken by local authorities must be in full respect of the rule of law, of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

29. Stresses the importance of free and independent media and their right to investigate the cases of corruption at governmental level without the risk of persecution; underlines the need to ensure sufficient resources for the functioning of the public television and radio as well as to guarantee transparent ownership of mass media; calls on the Ukrainian authorities to speed up and to finally deliver on their promises to find and prosecute all those responsible for the murder of journalists; expresses concern over the recent attempts by the General Prosecutor’s office to get access to the phone data of investigative journalists and stresses the importance of protecting whistle-blowers; calls on the authorities to ensure equal access to information for all ethnic groups;

30. Looks forward to the finalisation of the composition of the renewed Central Electoral Commission and the passing in second reading of a new electoral code; calls on the strengthening of the institutional capacity of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention to check up party finance and assets reports; calls to effectively implement the laws which guarantee equal rights for representatives of national minorities living in Ukraine;

31. Reiterates its highly positive appreciation of the de-centralization process started in 2014; believes that this process must be continued and consolidated, as it brings considerable improvements in citizens’ lives, in particular regarding the quality of services, the reduction of corruption at local level and the increased ownership of local decision-making by citizens; expresses therefore concerns at the recent decision by the Central Electoral Committee to put on hold the preparations of the elections planned in October for newly formed amalgamated communities; calls on all those responsible, including oblast and rayon administrations, to refrain from obstructing the continuation of the de-centralization process and overcome any existing barriers;

On the next meeting

32. Intends to hold the next meeting of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee in the first semester 2019, in the EP premises.