Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), The International Trade Committee in the European parliament has given its green light on for another one-year suspension of EU import duties on Ukrainian exports to support the country’s economy.
Members of the International Trade Committee approved a proposal to renew the suspension of import duties, anti-dumping duties and safeguards on Ukrainian exports to the European Union for another year, against the background of Russia’s war of aggression that is hampering Ukraine’s ability to trade with the rest of the world.
The suspension of tariffs applies to fruits and vegetables subject to the entry price system as well as agricultural products and processed agricultural products subject to tariff rate quotas.
Industrial products are subject to zero duties since 1 January 2023 under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, so they are not included in the new proposal.
MEPs adopted the committee’s draft report, prepared by standing rapporteur for Ukraine Sandra Kalniete (EPP, LV), by 27 votes, with 1 against and 7 abstentions.
She said, “I strongly support renewing the trade-liberalisation measures that currently help ensure Ukrainian continuity and stability of trade amidst brutal war caused by Russia. These measures are pivotal to strengthening Ukraine’s resilience in the present and with an eye toward the future, as we work to advance Ukraine’s gradual integration in the EU internal market.
“Our solidarity with Ukraine is consistent, transparent, and rock-solid, which has been further reinforced by Ukraine’s EU candidate status. Ukraine’s future is in the European Union”, said Sandra Kalniete.
Relations between the EU and Ukraine are regulated by an association agreement. The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area included in the agreement has ensured preferential access to the EU market for Ukrainian businesses since 2016.
According to the Commission, the EU is Ukraine’s largest trading partner, accounting for 39.5% of its trade in 2021. Ukraine is the EU’s 15th biggest trading partner, accounting for around 1.2% of the EU’s total trade.
The draft report is scheduled to be voted by all MEPs during the 8-11 May plenary session.
Meanwhile, members of the Parliamentary special committee on foreign interference and disinformation (INGE) has voted its second report with concrete recommendations on how to protect the democratic process from malicious foreign actors, and particularly from Russia and China.
Hostile foreign interference, disinformation, hybrid threats, cyberattacks, and other tactics exploiting the vulnerabilities in European open societies are increasing, and will intensify in the run-up to the European Parliament elections in 2024, says the report.
The report gives the Commission a blueprint on how to strengthen resilience, defend our democracies, and safeguard the European elections. The Socialists and Democrats urge the European Commission and member states to step up their efforts and implement recommendations such as prohibiting foreign funding from non-EU countries for political parties and identifying common EU rules on political campaigning and political party financing.
Reacting, Andreas Schieder, S&D spokesperson and negotiator in INGE, said:“Time of naivety is over. The Russian invasion of Ukraine clearly exposed the link between foreign attempts to manipulate information and threats to the EU. We must prepare ourselves for the tactics used by Russia and other hostile actors to weaken and divide Europe and interfere in our immediate neighbourhood, which will not only increase but will get more and more sophisticated in the run-up of the European elections. Regions like the Western Balkans or Partnership Countries will also need our help to counter destabilising efforts by countries like Russia.”