BRUSSELS -- The European Parliament's foreign affairs committee is calling for tighter sanctions on Russia and a mechanism for bringing Eastern Partnership countries such as Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine closer to the European Union.
The committee approved the recommendations in an October 10 vote ahead of an Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit in Brussels on November 24.
They are nonbinding and could be ignored when EU heads of state and government meet with their counterparts from the six Eastern partners -- which also include Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus -- but the full European Parliament plenary is set to endorse the document shortly before the summit.
It includes a call for the EU to consider "an attractive longer-term EaP+ model" for countries that have already concluded association agreements "that could eventually lead to joining the customs union, energy union, digital union and Schengen area."
It also urges "more immediate measures such as additional unilateral tariff preferences, a concrete time-frame for the abolition of roaming tariffs between the partners and the EU, and the development of high-capacity broadband."
Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine have concluded association agreements tightening ties with the EU.
Moscow's Growing Military Presence
While the EU member states currently are stuck in negotiations about whether to acknowledge the "European aspirations" of the trio in the final summit declaration, the European Parliament committee sounded a more supportive note.
It reiterated that "the association agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine do not constitute the final goal in their relations with the EU."
Other ideas endorsed by the committee include the establishment of a trust fund for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova that would focus on private and public investments, and the possibility of holding a donors' conference for Ukraine "in support of its humanitarian needs induced by the conflict in the East and the annexation of Crimea.”
In 2014, Russia seized control of Crimea and fomented separatism in eastern Ukraine, where an ensuing war against Kyiv's forces has killed more than 10,000 people.
The parliamentary committee endorsed the imposition of more sanctions against Russia while noting that, despite existing punitive measures, Moscow's "military presence in the region has nevertheless grown over the last years."