The EPP Group in the European Parliament is calling for more “tangible engagement” between the EU and Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus.
Amongst others, it calls for the abolition of cell phone roaming fees in the Eastern Partnership countries and between the EU and these 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. Next month’s Eastern Partnership Summit must conclude with a clear and long-term strategy of tangible engagement between the EU and its Eastern neighbours and among the six countries themselves. We call on the EU governments to prepare a detailed and ambitious agenda of cooperation, providing concrete help to Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. We should offer more to those who do more and less to those who do less in bringing their democracies up to European standards”, said MEPs Michael Gahler and Radosław Sikorski.
Both MEPs commented on the Parliament’s recommendation for the Eastern Partnership adopted recently in the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
“We are aware that some countries of the Partnership chose to have other goals in their relations with the EU. The goal of EU policy is nevertheless the same: to deepen our relations in conformity with international law and fundamental values and increase the stability and the prosperity of the whole region”, insisted Sikorski, who negotiated the recommendations on behalf of the EPP Group.
“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”, he added.
“To make these incentives functional, the Partnership 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”, stressed Gahler, EPP Group Spokesman on Foreign Affairs.
He also encouraged further reforms. “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.