Ukraine: National Platform takes up leadership in creating EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform sanctioned by the Association Agreement
31 March 2014
Last week the Steering Committee of the Ukrainian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (UNP EaP CSF) held a meeting, where goals were set for the nearest future and new opportunities that emerged after the signing of the Association Agreement on 21 March were discussed.
According to the UNP National Coordinator Oleksandr Sushko, the main task for the Ukrainian civil society for the nearest several months is to introduce an effective mechanism of cooperation between the Ukrainian civil society and the EU.
In particular, article 469 of the Association Agreement establishes a Civil Society Platform to manage bilateral consultations between the Ukrainian civil society and the European side, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). However, the Agreement does not suggest any precise formula to determine structure and composition of the Platform; moreover, it passes to the Platform the responsibilities to define its own agenda and rules of procedure.
As the coordinator of the Working Group 5 ‘Social Dialog ’ of the UNP EaP CSF Rostyslav Dzundza mentioned, EESC is a consulting body of the EU, which embraces employers, trade unions, professional associations and other groups of interest; EESC represents their position and protects their interests in dialog with the European Commission and the European Parliament.
Considering this important stage in the EU-Ukrainian relations, the UNP EaP CSF is ready to discuss framework of cooperation with civil society organizations of Ukraine and to prepare propositions on creating an effective bilateral format of cooperation between the Ukrainian civil society and the EU.
Based on internal consultations, independent expert recommendations and negotiations with the Federation of Employers of Ukraine, the Federation of Trade-unions and the Confederation of Independent Trade-unions of Ukraine etc., the UNP EaP CSF plans to produce its own conception and rules of procedure for the Civil Society Platform, which will be delivered to EESC.
The UNP EaP CSF will produce a joint decision on the format of the Civil Society Platform at an expert meeting where the all the involved parties will be invited. The meeting is scheduled for 18 April 2014. In May 2014, the UNP EaP CSF will start negotiations with EESC on particular mechanisms for bilateral cooperation.
Boosting key sectors of the Armenian economy with help from EU-supported project
Armenian government and private sector representatives met with international experts in Yerevan yesterday as part of an OECD Eurasia Competitiveness Programme project on enhancing the competitiveness of key sectors of the Armenian economy. The project is implemented with the financial assistance of the SME Panel of the European Union Eastern Partnership.
During 2014, two working groups will formulate policy recommendations to promote exports by Armenian agribusiness SMEs and to develop construction material SMEs by establishing a supportive investment climate for multinational construction materials firms.
Challenges already identified in the agribusiness value chain include fragmentation of agricultural production, weak links between agricultural producers and food processors, and difficult access to global markets. Issues facing potential construction materials industry investors include the cyclic nature of the local construction sector, high transport costs, and the fit with available natural resources.
A high-level Armenian delegation will present the resulting sector-specific recommendations at the OECD Eurasia Competitiveness Roundtable during the week of 24 November 2014 in Paris. The Roundtable will bring together high-level representatives from across the Eurasia region and OECD member countries. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
Armenia: progress report says EU committed to cooperation despite failure to initial Association Agreement
Last year saw intensive political dialogue between the EU and the Armenian Government, according to the European Commission’s ENP progress report on Armenia, released today. Negotiations on an Association Agreement (AA), including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), were completed in July 2013, but they could not proceed with its initialing, following Armenia’s decision to apply to join the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. “Armenia and the EU remained nevertheless committed to further cooperation as they jointly stated in the margins of the Vilnius Summit,” the report says.
The progress report was released by the European Commission as part of the 2014 European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) package, which underlines key developments and reform efforts in 2013, and makes recommendations for the year to come.
It says Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements were both ratified in 2013 and entered into force on 1 January 2014. And while Armenia continued to address issues related to human rights and fundamental freedoms, further work remains necessary, especially as regards the implementation and enforcement of legislation. The report says the February 2013 presidential elections were generally well-administrated notwithstanding concerns about the integrity of the electoral process.
Despite ongoing reforms, public mistrust of the judicial system remained high and there was a lack of convincing results in the fight against corruption, including in police and judiciary. Allegations of use of torture and ill-treatment in police custody were reported.
The report makes a number of recommendations with a view to a sustained implementation of the ENP Action Plan in 2014, including greater cooperation with and protection of civil society, implementation of OSCE/ODIHR recommendations on elections, reform of governance, public administration, judiciary and law enforcement, and efforts towards settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
(EU Neighbourhood Info)