Eastern Partners are experiencing strong pressure from Russia

In the run-up to the Vilnius summit, some of our Eastern Partners are experiencing strong pressure from Russia aimed at dissuading them from seeking closer ties with the EU, stated MEP Iuliu Winkler during “Countdown to the Vilnius Summit: The EU’s trade relations with Moldova and the South Caucasus” Workshop which was held on the premises of the European Parliament on 5th of November.
“This pressure raises concerns in terms on their national security, energy security and economic stability. The European Union has to do its outmost to support our Eastern Partners, to propose them viable alternatives and tangible benefits”, said Winkler.
In context of the discussions regarding the political and technical aspects in strengthening the Eastern Partnership, he expressed the commitment of the EP and the Committee on International Trade – INTA to facilitate to facilitate to the greatest possible extent deepening of economic integration of our Eastern Partners with the EU.
Reacting to one of the questions in the debate about the GSP+ agreement towards some of the Eastern Partners, Winkler drew an analogy: “In the actual European context the fulfilling of the technical criteria is not enough, a political decision being necessary. The accession of Romania and Bulgaria in the Schengen Area is a good example. Both countries are fulfilling the technical criteria of the Schengen Agreement, but they are not accepted because there is no unanimous political decision at the CouncilĀ“s level. I think we have to avoid such a situation in our relationships with our Eastern Partners and to make a clear distinction between technical decisions and political ones”, underlined Iuliu Winkler.
The Vilnius summit may be a defining moment in the EU’s relations with its Eastern neighbours and it may also set the course for more effective EU policy in the region for years to come, were another two ideas debated during the workshop.
The Commission proposal to immediately fully liberalise the imports of wine from Moldova to the EU, in response to the recent unjustified ban of such imports by Russia, for which Iuliu Winkler is the standing rapporteur in the EP was another subject brought to discussion.
Iuliu Winkler showed also the fact that INTA and its Monitoring groups for Moldova and for South Caucasus will continue to closely follow the developments of the EU trade relations with the countries in question.
Iuliu Winkler and Laima Liucija Andrikiene MEP from Lithuania co-chaired the workshop where among the participants were H.E. Raimundas Karoblis, Ambassador, the representative of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council, Peter Balas, Deputy Director General, DG Trade, European Commission, H.E. Eugen Caras, Ambassador of Moldova to the European Union, Mikheil Janelidze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.
The 3rd Eastern Partnership summit, which will take place in Vilnius, on 28-29 November, is crucial for the future of the Eastern Partnership. It is expected that the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Moldova and EU and Georgia will be initialed at the summit and that fruitful discussion regarding the future of EU trade relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan will take place.