The European People’s Party Group (EPP Group), the largest political group in the European Parliament, has appealed to the European Union governments to draw up “a detailed and ambitious agenda of cooperation, providing concrete help” to the six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries – Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus.
- The future of the Eastern Partnership
- Council of the European Union Conclusions on Eastern Partnership Policy beyond 2020
In a statement released on May 19, the EPP Group said that the next month’s EaP Summit “must conclude with a clear and long-term strategy of tangible engagement” between the EU and its Eastern neighbors, and among the six countries.
“More than ever, today and beyond 2020, the European Commission needs to take decisive action towards Eastern Partnership countries as the geopolitical future of the region is at stake, and so is the EU’s stability,” reads the statement.
Commenting on the Parliament’s recommendation for the Eastern Partnership adopted in the Committee on Foreign Affairs, EPP members Michael Gahler and Radosław Sikorski said “we should offer more to those who do more and less to those who do less in bringing their democracies up to European standards.”
According to Sikorski, “the goal of EU policy” is to deepen its relations “in conformity with international law and fundamental values and increase the stability and the prosperity of the whole region.”
He said, “without compromising this objective, the EU should put concrete incentives on the table to those countries like the creation of a roaming fee-free zone, support to diversify economies by increasing loans given to SMEs in local currencies, or help with the development of infrastructure.”
We want more "tangible engagement" between the EU and #Ukraine, #Georgia, #Moldova, #Armenia, #Azerbaijan & #Belarus. Also we call for the abolition of cell phone #roaming fees in the #EasternPartnership and between the EU and these countries.https://t.co/RHBEEHqmC5— EPP Group (@EPPGroup) May 19, 2020
MEP Gahler said in his address to the AFET that “to make these incentives functional,” the EaP countries “will have to start working together.”
“None of the current challenges facing the democratic world can be dealt with efficiently by individual countries. Protectionism has shown its limits, cooperation is key. An increase in intra-regional trade, the decrease or abolition of roaming fees, joint projects in areas such as energy or transport will bring benefits,” Gahler stated.
He further noted that “if the countries implement the Association Agreements, they will have achieved 70% of European standards and rules.”
“Do not backtrack on your efforts to reform your countries. It is essential as it will bring more prosperity to your societies,” he concluded.