IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Moldova’s Association Agreement negotiations finalised
Moldova has concluded its Association Agreement negotiations with the EU; Georgia and Armenia are expected to finish the talks in July and September respectively, according to a senior Commission official speaking at a conference in Warsaw. The conference “Free Trade Regulatory Approximation and Mobility in the Eastern Partnership: from Commitments to Deeds” was jointly organised by the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) and the Representation of the European Commission on 20 June 2013.
In the first pannel on the development of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) discussions focused on the economic benefits for both Europe and the EaP countries stemming from the agreements and mostly concentrated on Ukraine. The EU’s Association Agreement with Ukraine has already been initialled and could be signed at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on 29 November if Julia Tymoshenko - a former Ukrainian Prime Minister - is freed from prison.
The initialling of the agreements with Moldova, Georgia and Armenia means that work will continue for five to six months on completing DCFTAs which are part of the Association Agreements. However it is already a done deal.
The Association Agreements will have still to be ratified by all the Parliaments of the EU member states and the European Parliament which could take as long as three years, the official said. However once the Association Agreements will have been initialled, the DCFTAs will be provisionally applied in relations between the EU and the relevant countries. This provisional application advocated by the EU would ensure the complete implementation of the DCFTAs in the near future, as already all aspects of the agreement signed concerning the European-level rather than national legislation can enter into force immediately.
The official said that the DCFTA negotiated with Ukraine will act as a template in planned talks on similar agreements with North African states such as Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Were all these agreements to be signed and implemented, the European Union would be surrounded by the countries to a large extent subscribing to the EU’s acquis, thereby forming a free trade area between the EU and its neighbours to the east and the south.
The second panel of the conference focused on mobility and visa agreements in the EaP. The multiple gain of mobility policies was stressed by the participants, as these provide the EU member states with additional gains from tourism and a flexible short-term labour force while partner countries profit from “brain gain” through education, remittances from abroad and exposure to the West. The progress achieved so far in this field concerning Visa Facilitation Agreements to simplify and cheapen the visa application process was seen as a positive development, while further improvement depends mostly on the implementation of rule of law in the EaP countries.
For more information on the conference see here.