Euro Parliament members agree on deeper EU ties with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova

Published in World
Wednesday, 08 November 2017 16:39

The European Parliament proposes new ways to intensify EU relations with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova ahead of the Eastern Partnership Summit on 24 November, the official website of the European Parliament reports. 

Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova are working hard to forge closer links with the EU, in spite of strong resistance from Russia. They already benefit from visa-free travel to the EU as well as increased commercial opportunities thanks to free-trade agreements.

A new Parliament report is now calling to deepen this collaboration further and find new ways to support the countries on the EU’s eastern borders. The own-initiative report has already been adopted by the foreign affairs committee and will be voted on by all MEPs during the November plenary session in Strasbourg. The main focus is on Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, three countries which have recently achieved major progress in the cooperation with the EU.

Topping the list of recommendations is the establishment of a trust fund for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. The trust fund is a development tool for quick and flexible EU response to crisis and post-crisis situations. It would pool resources from public and private donors for investment in projects aiming to improve socioeconomic structures.

The committee also recommends increased support for economic reforms and upgrading the current partnership as a way of rewarding progress on EU-related reforms by partner countries. This upgrade could provide access to the EU's customs or energy union, for example.

Lithuanian EPP member Laima Andrikienė, one of the authors of the Parliament report, said: “The creation of an Eastern Partnership Plus model for associated countries with the possibility of a future membership in the customs, energy and digital union is crucial."

These measures add to the structures and projects for cooperation and development in the region already in place by the EU. The proposal emphasises the need to maintain pressure on Russia to resolve the territorial conflicts involving these countries. This is particularly relevant at the moment as the EU sanction towards Russia will reevaluated in January 2018.

The Eastern Partnership is a framework for collaboration between the EU and eastern neighbours Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. Since the launch in 2009, the political context has changed dramatically, according to Andrikienė.

“The changes are due to the military aggression of Russia against Ukraine in 2014, the annexation of Crimea and continuing occupation of Eastern Ukraine by Russian proxies, as well as Kremlin-steered frozen conflicts which remain unresolved in Moldova and Georgia," the MEP said.

She added that despite “Russian meddling” Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, three of the partner countries, now have association agreements with the EU and free trade agreements through the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.

German S&D member Knut Fleckenstein, one of the other authors of the report, said the partnership was about much more than just signing agreements: “The objective is to build trust and promote cooperation between all partners in order to achieve concrete benefits for the people, such as respect for fundamental freedoms, better living standards and prospects for the future, facilitation of people-to-people contacts.”

To boost the progress of these countries, the proposal by the foreign affairs committee will be put forward to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Services for consideration at the upcoming Eastern Partnership summit on 24 November.

“We have to ensure that the outcomes of the summit are concrete and dedicated to the long-term investments and well-being of people in the countries concerned. EU support for economic reforms are of very high importance to the citizens," said Andrikienė.

Her colleague Fleckenstein added: “A successful Eastern Partnership must reduce socio-economic disparities and corruption, better connect the participating countries in the areas of transport, infrastructure and energy, allow for visa-free travel for short-term stays and increase opportunities for educational exchanges and people-to-people contacts,’’ – the European Parliament says. 

Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine among 58 countries to join forces to stop trade in goods used for torture & death penalty

Published in World
Thursday, 21 September 2017 09:59

On 18 September, four of the EU’s Eastern Partner countries (Armenia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) joined the international Alliance for Torture-Free Trade, which was launched during the United Nations General Assembly week in New York.

“The initiative – a joint effort by the European Union, Argentina and Mongolia, with a total of 58 participating countries – aims to stop the trade in goods used to carry out the death penalty and commit torture,” the EU said in a press release.

It also gave a reminder that international law bans torture in all circumstances. Despite this, tools of death and pain are still traded across the globe: “These include batons with metal spikes, electric shock belts, grabbers that seize people while electrocuting them, chemicals used to execute people and the forced injection systems that go with them,” the EU said.

“These products serve no other purpose than inflicting terrible pain and killing people. Now, we are taking concrete action to shut down this despicable trade. I am thrilled that so many countries around the globe have signed up to the joint Declaration and joined this Alliance. By standing together, we demonstrate that we will not tolerate this trade any longer,” said European Union Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström.

More information on the countries that have joined the Alliance and the content of the joint political declaration adopted in New York can be found here.

Eastern Neighbourhood: Forestry project highlights positive developments

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 15:25
An EU-funded forestry project has highlighted the progress made in the forestry sector at its final meeting in December. Attendees at the last meeting of the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) II Programme, from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia, suggested ways to ensure that the project’s results are long-term.
One of more important deliverables of the Programme is increased collaboration between neighboring countries on forest management. Other important achievements included inputs to country forestry sector programs, study tours to EU Member State countries and bilateral dialogue, building community and youth awareness about the importance of forests, promoting new protected areas, and forest biodiversity conservation.
Key long-term achievements will continue to benefit the region after the programme’s completion, such as the National Program Advisory Committees (NPACs) which was created by FLEG, and contributed towards the institutional reform process as well as providing independent and valuable data.
FLEG also contributed to making forest management and governance more transparent, built educational and professional capacity in the forestry sector, fostered collaboration between local communities and the forestry sector and facilitated community participation in the sector for sustainable forest management.

Eastern Partnership to develop regional energy cooperation

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 15:03
The Eastern Partnership Platform on Energy Security has hosted representatives from the EU, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Participants gathered to discuss energy security, renewable energy, energy efficiency and nuclear safety at its 16thmeeting in Brussels.
The meeting focused on regional energy cooperation and EU-funded energy programmes and initiatives, such as: EU4Energy; the ‘Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy going East’; Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P); the EU technical Assistance Facility for Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL); and the High Quality Studies to support the Activities under the Eastern Partnership (HiQSTEP).
Participants were looking for solutions to energy efficiency in the housing sector, discussing the construction of missing infrastructure links and ways to bring partner countries' energy-related rules more in line with EU rules.

EU identifies key deliverables for the Eastern Partnership

Published in Politics
Monday, 19 December 2016 13:35
The European Commission and the European External Action Service have identified 20 key deliverables for the Eastern Partnership by 2020. The targets were published in a joint working document, "Eastern Partnership – focusing on key priorities and deliverables", on 15 December.
The document is to contribute to the joint work of EU Member States and EaP Partner countries and highlight actions in key priority areas such as economic development and market opportunities, strengthening institutions and good governance, connectivity, energy efficiency, environment and climate change as well as mobility and people-to-people contacts. The EU Member States and EaP Partner countries agree that the EaP needs to focus on delivering tangible results to citizens.
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint policy initiative between the European Union and its six Eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
 

Moldova: EU and Council of Europe showcase achievements in justice and human rights

Published in World
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 09:56
The European Union and Council of Europe today presented in Chisinau the mid-term results of their joint projects for Eastern Partnership countries, with a special focus on Moldova.
The four country-specific projects under the EU-CoE Programmatic Cooperation Framework (PCF) in 2015-2017 focus on supporting national efforts to prevent and combat discrimination, strengthening the efficiency of justice, reinforcing respect for human rights in the implementation of the country’s digital agenda, as well as cooperation on electoral matters. The media were also told of the results of 14 regional initiatives rolled out in Eastern Partnership countries, in which Moldova was also involved.
The projects are funded by the European Union (90%), and co-financed (10%) and implemented by the Council of Europe. Their total budget is EUR 2.4 million.
The EU-Council of Europe Programmatic Co-operation Framework aims to provide extensive and substantial expertise on strengthening the capacity of institutions in the six Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) to implement domestic reforms. It also aims to bring the countries closer to EoE and EU standards in the fields of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and improve the lives of citizens. The EU’s contribution to the PCF is EUR 30 million. 

Civil Society Forum hosts human rights conference in Moldova

Published in Society
Thursday, 22 September 2016 13:25
Around 50 experts and civil society community representatives from Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova were brought together this week for a human rights conference hosted by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) and its Moldovan National Platform. Experts were joined by major international NGOs, EU institutions and the Council of Europe for the conference, which took place on 19-20 September in the Moldovan capital Chisinau to discuss human rights challenges in Eastern Partnership countries and international mechanisms for the defence of human rights.
Participants took part in practical workshops on best practices in campaigning about human rights, networking and fundraising, and learned about European Court of Human Rights activities with EaP countries. They also discussed the current situation and heard about methods of monitoring human rights and protection in conflict zones. A second workshop highlighted ways of preventing human rights abuses through special educational programmes and ensuring media freedom and access to information.
The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) is a unique multi-layered regional civil society platform aimed at promoting European integration, facilitating reforms and democratic transformations in the six Eastern Partnership countries - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. Launched in 2009 at the Prague Summit of the Eastern Partnership, the EaP CSF serves as a civil society and people-to-people dimension of this initiative aiming to bring European integration closer to citizens of the Eastern Neighbourhood.  

PRIME MINISTER OF GEORGIA TO VISIT MOLDOVA

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 10:50

H.E. Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia will visit Moldova by the official invitation of H.E. Pavel Filip, Prime Minister of Moldova made at a bilateral meeting in New York.
Parties expressed readiness to further deepen bilateral relations between the two countries. Discussions were also related to the advancement of trade and economic relations, along with the prospects of cooperation in the sector of tourism. Prime Ministers have agreed to hold the first meeting of the Inter-Governmental Economic Commission of the two countries, which is expected to take place early next year.
Prime Minister of Moldova expressed his keen interest in sharing Georgia's experience of successfully implemented reforms. Georgian Government welcomes this initiative. Prime Minister Kvirikashvili confirmed his willingness to support his Moldavian colleague in this process. Heads of Governments in both countries deem the current cooperation of Ministries of Interior, Justice and Agriculture to be productive and fruitful, as in other areas of interaction.
Prime Minister of Georgia expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister of Moldova for his support towards the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia.

Grassroots organisations in Georgia and Armenia meet to develop energy efficiency

Published in Economics
Friday, 16 September 2016 10:47
A regional grassroots network of organisations will meet to discuss energy efficiency and climate change, under the EU-funded Civil society Local Energy Efficiency Network (CLEEN) project, in partnership with the Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) network. Two meetings are being organised with the aim of increasing citizen participation in decentralised energy production, to establish cooperation between local grassroots organisations and to give citizens a stronger voice in policy making.
A meeting on energy efficiency takes place on 19-21 September in Bakuriani, Georgia and a workshop on energy cooperatives will take place on 26-28 September in the Armenian city of Ashtarak. Anna Samwel, head of WECF branch office Georgia, said: “We see grassroots organisations grow strong, self-confident and more professional with the CLEEN programme, working with the local governance and making a real difference in their communities.“ CLEEN (Civil society Local Energy Efficient Network) is a 3-year EU-funded project that aims to build a partnership of civil society organisations (CSOs), as well as to strengthen CSOs’ capacities in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The project focuses on energy efficiency and cost savings, and increased accountability of local and national authorities on this issue. WECF coordinates this project, and provide technical expertise. 

Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine get ready for free trade area

Published in Economics
Monday, 12 September 2016 17:16
Moldova and Ukraine have significantly improved, according to an article on the website of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). EU funding has provided support to help businesses in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, allowing them to take full advantage of unrestricted access to the world’s largest market, the EBRD says, adding that the €400 million funding has helped local entrepreneurs to grow their business, train local partner banks and improve the business environment through policy dialogue with relevant government authorities.
These efforts have resulted in significant improving of production, adaptation to EU standards and  opening new export markets for local enterprises.
The three countries signed Association Agreements with the EU that foresee the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between each country and the EU.
This development is expected to provide businesses and the economy - from farming to the IT sector - with a vital boost. The EBRD is providing finance to small and medium-sized enterprises in all three countries, supported by the EU with a risk-sharing model. The loans  provided by the EBRD and EU not only help to increase the share of exports, but support the local economy through creating new job opportunities and discovering new market opportunities.
The EBRD started in May 2016 to provide €380 million in loans and trade guarantees to local partner banks and other financial institutions for on-lending to businesses, while the EU is making available €19 million for technical assistance, investment incentives and risk-sharing.
The EU funds are part of the EU4Business initiative, which provides a comprehensive package of support to attract new investments and improve services and products to the benefits of all citizens and consumers across the Eastern partnership region.
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