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European Lawmakers Call For Eastern Partners' Greater Integration

By RFE/RL June 19, 2020

European lawmakers are calling for the creation of a "common economic space" between the EU and the six former Soviet republics of its Eastern Partnership program as part of a process of "gradual integration" into the bloc.

The European Parliament made the call in a report supported on June 19 by 507 MEPs, with 119 voting against and 37 abstaining.

The document is supposed to serve as the chamber's wish list about the future of the Eastern Partnership program, which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The program, launched in 2009, is meant to bring the six former Soviet republics closer to the EU without clearly offering future membership.

"While accession is not foreseen under the framework of the Eastern Partnership, the Eastern Partnership policy can facilitate a process of gradual integration into the EU," the report reads.

It proposes to "embark on a process to create a common economic space" and says Brussels should "focus on telecommunications and prioritise the creation of a roaming-fees-free regime between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries and an intra-Eastern Partnership one as soon as possible."

Other suggestions include the establishment of an Eastern Partnership University in Kyiv and the appointment of an EU special envoy for Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia over its forcible seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and its support for separatists in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people since April 2014.

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/european-lawmakers-eastern- partners-greater-integration/30680511.html

Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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