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ALDE MEP Schaake reacts on preferential market access to the European market for Ukrainian companies

Tomorrow, the European Parliament votes on prolonging preferential market access to the European market for Ukrainian companies. Yesterday, the Trade committee of the Parliament already supported this extension. Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) responds: "Preferential market access is of great economic importance to Ukraine, in the past moths, Ukrainian exports to the European Union have already increased significantly. It is also an important political signal that the EU keeps on supporting Ukraine on its way back to stability. However, preferential tariffs for Ukrainian products are not an excuse to bring any product onto the European market. All products must conform to European rules and standards, just like any import to the EU from a third country. The European Commission and national authorities need to monitor this closely." If the Parliament agrees tomorrow, Ukrainian access to preferential tariff rates will become conditional on respect for human rights. "Taking up a human rights clause in the agreement on lowering tariffs is an important move. The EU should more broadly use its economic weight to promote human rights in third countries. Clauses like this one, can be invoked when necessary." After discussions with Russia, the EU and Ukraine recently decided to postpone the implementation of the trade aspects of the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine until 2016. The prolongation of preferential market access should bridge that gap. In a previous statement, Schaake already emphasised that it is crucial that the content of the Association agreement is not changed in the meantime under pressure from the Kremlin. On 21 October, Marietje Schaake spoke in the plenary meeting about customs duties on goods originating in Ukraine. Text of the plenary speech of Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Madam President, the exceptional provocations and aggression by Putin’s Russia in our eastern neighbourhood continue to be cause for great concern. At their root is the choice of the Ukrainians to seek stronger ties with the EU. Choosing rules-based trade and a movement towards an open society will require difficult reforms. The deep and comprehensive trade agreement which is part of the Association Agreement is set to enter into force on 1 January 2016. Meanwhile, preferential trade measures were already adopted in April 2014 as part of the support package for Ukraine. Since their implementation, trade between the EU and Ukraine has increased drastically. Ukrainian exports to the EU increased by 25 % in May and June of this year compared to the same period last year and during the first six months of 2014 exports from Ukraine to Russia fell by 24 %. These figures show the importance of the autonomous trade measures for the Ukrainian economy. Not extending them would not only seem a political statement but would have a very real economic impact on the country and its people. Given the economic asymmetry between the EU and Ukraine, the increase in exports from Ukraine is economically important for the country but it has relatively little effect on us in the EU. In principle, the autonomous trade measures do not allow illegal products onto the European market. All products must conform to EU standards, but the increase in trade may make it harder to control them. However this should not lead to products coming onto the European market which would otherwise be illegal and which could harm European producers. The regulation before us prolongs the autonomous trade measures and amends the existing regulation to make access by Ukraine to the preferential conditions conditional upon respect for democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as respect for the rule of law. This is also mentioned in the Association Agreement. It is now important that these conditions are met and that the timeframe is kept. Exceptional circumstances call for exceptional measures but the goal remains to see a structural solution.