Far left and nationalist parliamentarians fail to block a strong EU position on the crisis in Ukraine

Photo from EPA/ Zurab Kurtsikidze

Centrist groups have succeeded in reaching a common position to ask the European Union to send a strong signal of support for Ukraine’s European aspirations. EU Parliamentarians passed a resolution condemning the acts of terrorism and criminal behavior of the separatists and other irregular forces in eastern Ukraine.

The resolution also calls for the continuation of the current EU sanctions regime and takes positive note of the recently adopted additional sanctions on investment, services and trade regarding Crimea and Sevastopol. The text says that the EU won’t back down from sanctions until Russia changes its aggressive behaviour, stops supporting separatists and withdraws its troops.

The recommendation points out that the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA) does not constitute the final goal in EU-Ukraine relations. The text underlines that Ukraine has a European perspective and may apply to become a member of the European Union. To enter into force, the AA has to be ratified by the EU member states and newly adopted resolution urges the EU Member States to ratify the AA before the Riga summit.

The communist GUE/NGL group in the European Parliament objected to EU having an active supportive stance towards Ukraine and objected particularly to the alleged criminalization of Ukrainian Communist Party and its ideology. Most of the nationalist Members also voted against EU’s support for Ukraine. However, the final text was carried by an overwhelming majority made up of the Christian-Democrat (EPP) group, the Socialists (S&D), the conservatives (ECR), the liberals (ALDE) and Greens/EFA group.

Notably, a call for the repealing of the Association Agreement was supported, alongside with far left and nationalists, by a Slovakian socialist, a Greek conservative and a Latvian Greens/EFA Member (click here to see how each Member voted on this item). Similarly, a handful of MEPs from the S&D group, coming from Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia, Germany and the UK voted for lifting the EU sections against Russia, although the overwhelming majority of their colleagues opposed (click here to see how each Member voted on this item).

Interestingly, 6 Italian EPP Members, including former EU commissioner for industry, Antonio Tajani, defected from their  group’s position and showed support for the lifting of the EU sanctions, considering them as politically ineffective and counter-productive (click here to see how they voted).

The main political groups disagreed on one point: the S&D group (along with the far left) asked that further financial assistance to Ukraine be conditioned by a set of measures such as the dissolution of the paramilitary forces fighting on government’s side and immediate democratic control over all security forces in the country. However, the EPP, ALDE and the Greens/EFA found this approach inopportune in the current context and voted down the conditionality. Three Italian socialist MEPs defected from the group line on this matter and also voted against conditionality (click here to see how they voted).

Note: the final vote on the text of the resolution as a whole was not cast by roll-call vote, therefore there is no data to show on how each Member voted.

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