The simultaneous ratification of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Parliament by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the European Parliament on 16 September 2014 has become one of the key achievements of the parliamentary dialogue after the Revolution of Dignity.
Article 467 of the Association Agreement envisages that Parliamentary Association Committee (PAC), that replaced Ukraine-EU Parliamentary Cooperation Committee established according to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, is a forum for members of Ukrainian and European Parliaments to meet and exchange views. According to the provisions of the Association Agreement, the Committee may request relevant information regarding the implementation of the AA from the Association Council, which shall also inform the Committee about its decisions and recommendations. The PCA may also make recommendations to the Association Council.
The Parliamentary Association Committee are chaired in turn by a representative of the European Parliament and a representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine respectively. Therefore, Mr.Ostap Semerak, Member of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and Mr.Andrej Plenković, Member of the European People’s Party on behalf of the European Parliament have been elected as Co-Chairs of the PAC.
The first meeting of EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee was held in Brussels on 24-25 February 2015. This meeting was jointly inaugurated by Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Mr. Volodymyr Groysman and President of the European Parliament Mr. Martin Schulz. At a result of the meeting the final Statement and Recommendations were adopted.
To consolidate greater unity among the political forces of the European Parliament on support of Ukraine, to generate new ideas and help them being effectively implemented, on 10 December 2014 upon an initiative of Member of the European Parliament Petras Auštrevičius (ALDE) an informal group of Friends of European Ukraine was established. Petras Auštrevičius has been elected as a Co-Chair of the European component of the Group, and Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze - as a Co-Chair of the Ukrainian component. The Group conducts its work complementing the regular activities within the Parliamentary Association Committee.
The multilateral component of the parliamentary dialogue with the European Parliament and parliaments of the Eastern Partnership countries (Azerbaijan, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova) develops within the Parliamentary Assembly EuroNest (PA EuroNest).
The constituent meeting of the PA EuroNest was held on 3 May 2011 in Brussels. The First Ordinary Session was held on 14-15 September 2011 in Strasbourg, the Second – on 2-4 April 2012 in Baku, the Third – on 28-29 May 2013 in Brussels, and the Fourth – on 16-18 March 2015 in Erevan. The next plenary session will be convened in 2017 in Kyiv.
The European Parliament and developments in Ukraine
The Ukrainian issue remains among the top priorities on the agenda of the European Parliament.
The European Parliament has taken an uncompromising position on Ukraine. In particular, the EP expresses its strong support to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and its European choice, condemns the Russian aggression and illegal annexation of the Crimea; stands for keeping a sanction regime against Russia weakening or lifting of which could be possible only after Russia undertakes real steps to deescalate the situation in Ukraine. The European Parliament also repeatedly expressed its support to the European perspective of Ukraine according to article 49 of the Treaty on the European Union, as well as on introduction of the visa-free regime for the Ukrainian citizens.
The European Parliament is paying a particular attention to the issue of liberation of Ukrainian political prisoners illegally detained in Russia. On 30 April and 10 September 2015 two special resolution were adopted on this matter stressing on lawfulness and political motivation of behavior of the Russian authorities with regard to Oleh Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Nadiya Savchenko and other Ukrainian citizens, as well as calling to immediately and unconditionally release them. The European Parliament also called to prepare a list of persons responsible for abduction, illegal detention and sentencing of the Ukrainian citizens, as well as to apply visa and financial restrictions to the officials included into the list.
The Parliamentary dialogue is also marked by high dynamic at the highest political level. On 11-12 September 2014 President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz paid his first official visit to Ukraine. Therefore, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman paid an official visit to the European institutions in Brussels on 24 February, 2015, which became a significant political message of Ukraine’s strong commitment to the European integration. In the context of further strengthening of the parliamentary dialogue another visit of President Schulz to Ukraine took place on 2-3 July 2015. In the framework of this visit the Memorandum of Understanding between the European Parliament and Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on a joint framework for parliamentary support and capacity building was signed by Chairman Groysman and President Schulz.
Within the implementation of this Memorandum a Need Assessment Mission led by former President of the European Parliament Pat Cox has started its work in Ukraine in September this year. As a result of its activities the Mission is expected to prepare recommendations on a program of parliamentary support and capacity building of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by the end of 2015, implementation of which will be launched in 2016.