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EU Parliament abolishes import taxes for Ukraine for another year

EU Parliament abolishes import taxes for Ukraine for another year
Article by: Vitaly Yeremitsa
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
Brussels – The EU Parliament, despite the ardent resistance on part of radical politicians considered to be ‘Putin’s friends,’ approved the extension of trade preferences for Ukraine for 2015. This means that the preferential trade regime for Ukrainians with the European Union will last for another year. Not supporting Ukraine at such a difficult time would have been an instance of inconsequential behavior on part of the European Union and would have landed a blow to the trust towards it on part of the global public, say the members of the Parliament. 
On Thursday the EU Parliament confirmed the trilateral agreement between Ukraine, Russia and the European Union, which postpones the enacting of the FTZ between Ukraine and the union until 2016. Instead, the EU decided to implement a preferential trade regime for 2014-2015 without any problem. The current autonomous preferential regime for Ukrainian goods should have ended on November 1.

As such, the unilateral trade preferences mean that almost 95% European taxes on industrial import from Ukraine will be abolished. The same way, almost 80% of Ukrainian agricultural produce will be exported to the European Union without customs limitations.

However, there was a risk that the bill would not pass due to the far-right and far-left parties, which are considered to be ‘friends of Putin’s’ in the EU Parliament. The previous attempt to approve the necessary decision immediately in the parliamentary committee for commerce was disrupted by Russia’s supporters.

Le Pen: Custom-less Ukrainian goods damage the European economy

Even before the current plenary session head of the French National Front Marine Le Pen called not to vote for trade preferences for Ukraine but send the document for readjustments. The argument against subsidies for Ukrainian goods on the European market was the ‘ungrounded haste’ in making this desiccation and the alleged damage the European economy will suffer.

“The hats procedure of approving this decision has a direct goal to influence the electoral process in Ukraine this Sunday,” criticisms the French nationalist. “We have to take into account the investigation of the damage (from preferential trade with Ukraine) which the European economy will suffer, given that it is already in a very bad shape.”

In the end, pro-Ukrainian powers in the EU Parliament won: 497 members supported the decision, 78 voted against it and 56 abstained.

Economic cooperation between the EU and Ukraine is very important, and Ukrainians also need a helping hand, explains Dutch member of the EU Parliament Hans Van Balen.

“This is not targeting Russia, therefore we should not stop. We will wait for the time when our goods are also freely sold in Ukraine. The best advise for Russia is the following: leave Ukrainian soil and start talking about real economic cooperation without force and violence,” says the MP.

The representative for issues of trade with Ukraine, Lithuanian member of the EU Parliament Gabrielus Landsbergis also said: the European Union is on the Ukrainians’ side, it has to be consequential and not lose trust in the eyes of the global community. “The situation in Ukraine is getting worse and this step is real aid which is needed there,” the EU Parliament member added.

Trade preferences for Ukraine are part of the peace process

As the EU Parliament explains, this decision is also part of the all-encompassing peace process in Ukraine, taking into account its territorial integrity and the right to decide its own fate.

This procedure should have ended by November 1, as the current EU Parliament plenary session is the last one before EU leaders and the EU Commission are replaced. Therefore, they set up a sped-up procedure to examine the issue of Ukrainian trade preferences.

The decision of the EU Parliament now has to be formally approved by the EU Council of Ministers, which will gather the next week.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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