MEPs raise EU membership prospect for Ukraine


Euractiv.com

In Short:

The Parliament has given overwhelming support to a resolution that would offer a "clear European perspective" to Ukraine. The Commission, however, says that Kiev's membership is "not on the agenda".

In a non-binding vote, the 13 January plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg decided overwhelmingly to endorse Ukraine's aspirations for membership of the EU.

In a resolution which passed with 467 votes in favour, 19 against an seven abstentions, the MEPs welcomed the "substantially fair elections" held on 26 December 2004, and said that the time was ripe to consider frameworks for association with Ukraine other than the EU's Neighbourhood Policy, which they said should be revised in order to help Ukraine in its political and economic reforms. According to the resolution, Ukraine should be given a "clear European perspective" that comes complete with "the possibility that Ukraine enters the EU". The reviewed plan is scheduled to be officially presented to Kiev later in January.

The EPP-ED Group said that "it is in our best interest" to encourage reforms in the country, and thus "we must offer Ukraine the prospect of EU membership". The ALDE Group welcomed the EP vote, arguing that "our duty is to open Europe to Ukraine".

The Council and the Commission, however, continue to be reluctant to expressly designate Ukraine as an EU candidate. For now, the Commission aims to enhance ties with Kiev by offering a "new kind of relationship" once the country manifests progress with its reforms under President Viktor Yushchenko. Commissioner Janez Potocnik said in no uncertain terms that "the question of Ukrainian entry into the European Union is not on the agenda". The EU's current Action Plan with Ukraine was negotiated with the government of former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.

Meanwhile, President Yushchenko has been invited to Brussels, and his scheduled February visit is likely to also take him to the Parliament.