BETA


2013/2036(INI) EU policy towards Belarus. Recommendation to the Council, the Commission and the EEAS

Progress: Procedure completed

RoleCommitteeRapporteurShadows
Lead AFET PALECKIS Justas Vincas (icon: S&D S&D)
Lead committee dossier:
Legal Basis:
RoP 011

Events

2013/09/12
   EP - Results of vote in Parliament
2013/09/12
   EP - Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
Details

The European Parliament adopted a resolution containing a proposal for a recommendation to the Council, the Commission and to EEAS on EU Policy towards Belarus.

Parliament recalls that in 1997 the European Council suspended the ratification of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement and froze the Interim Trade Agreement , and that therefore, EU-Belarus relations remain regulated by the 1989 Trade and Co-operation Agreement. It also recalls that although EU-Belarus relations improved between 2008-2010, the brutal crackdown following the 2010 presidential elections and tightening of repressive policy, led to a significant deterioration of these relations.

In this context, Parliament addresses a series of recommendations to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP), the EEAS, the Council, the Commission and Member States aiming to work towards a democratic transition in this country and end its international isolation:

On political dialogue : Parliament wants to take advantage of Lithuania’s Presidency and the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius as an opportunity to improve relations with Belarus. In an amendment adopted in plenary, Parliament takes note of the release from prison of Dzmitry Dashkevich and Aliaksandr Franskevich, in August and September 2013 respectively, but deplore the fact that these former political prisoners only regained their freedom once they had served their full prison sentences.

Members ask that the EU make best use of the temporary and conditional suspension of the incumbent foreign minister from the EU visa ban list with a view to broadening the main and essential diplomatic communication channel with Belarus, whilst staying firm on the visa ban and asset freeze targeting those directly involved in violating democratic election standards and human rights.

Parliament also calls for the preparation of a strategic ‘roadmap’, based on the ‘more for more’ principle, including priority areas for reforms in Belarus. It considers that the European Parliament must be consulted on this as soon as the elections are recognised as free and fair.

Recommendations are also made to encourage wider civil society to increase its involvement in the Dialogue on Modernisation. Members support the idea of creating a civil society conference in Vilnius.

At the same time, they urge Russia and Eastern Partnership countries to call upon Belarus to release immediately and unconditionally, all political prisoners and to restrain from any further politically motivated harassment .

Strategic policy options for reform : Parliament makes several recommendations, amongst which are the following:

implement fully Electoral Code reforms on the basis of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) recommendations; allow the re-opening of the OSCE office in Minsk, which has been closed; lift any obstacles and restrictions to the exercise of freedoms of association, expression, movement, peaceful assembly and thought for the democratic opposition, civil society organisations and NGOs; introduce the necessary institutional changes to ensure independence of the judiciary; not implement the execution of those sentenced to death in 2013; introduce a moratorium on followed by the abolition of the death penalty; fully modernise the penitentiary system; establish an independent and fully functional national human rights institution; guarantee equal opportunities and equal rights for, and the inclusion and non-discrimination of, all national minorities, including LGBT; ensure the effective freedom of and access to media.

Plenary insists that Belarus should fully cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus to address the serious concerns expressed in his report of April 2013 and, as a first step, grant him entry into the country.

On economic and energy cooperation : Parliament seeks a constructive EU-Belarus technical dialogue on reforms including the privatisation of state-owned enterprises, price, trade and banking system liberalisation, and the fight against corruption.

It encourages Belarus to implement basic International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendations.

On energy measures , Parliament calls for assistance in developing the diversification of energy resources and supply routes in Belarus and in carrying out ‘green economy’ projects. It asks for continued technical and health assistance to the population affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

On border management , the resolution calls for strengthening EU-Belarus cooperation on border management and the fight against cross-border crime and assisting Belarus in developing its transit system, and modernising customs and border control procedures. It proposes the provision of further training for the Belarus border management agency in line with the Schengen acquis, in view of mutual interests, as well as the provision of adequate training to the relevant Belarusian services on EU best practices in the introduction of biometric passports.

On civil society and people-to-people contacts , Parliament calls for an increase in the share of projects with greater benefit to and visibility for the population at large, which would foster citizens’ understanding of EU values, standards and policies. It is systematically and uncompromisingly opposed to any disinformation and misleading information by the Belarusian authorities on EU policies and projects.

In an amendment adopted in plenary, Parliament requests that support should be given to or ganisations working to promote democracy and human rights, not only those based in Belarus, but also those based abroad, given that the Belarusian authorities consistently deny such organisations the possibility of registration. A revision should be made, as a matter of urgency, of the latest new rules on applying for EU funding under the EIDHR/NSLA instrument , which in practice exclude well-known and respected Belarusian NGOs from the application process.

Parliament proposes intensifying technical and financial support, to civil society organisations, independent NGOs, human rights defenders and trade unions based in Belarus, or those in the Member States that have a key impact in Belarus, through channels that must include the new European Endowment for Democracy.

Members want to see the Belarusian authorities required to remove criminal liability for the receipt of foreign grants and to allow organisations to keep funds in foreign bank accounts.

At the same time, they propose that consideration should be given to unilaterally facilitating the issuing of visas and reducing their cost from EUR 60 to an affordable level for Belarusian citizens, together with negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements given that Belarusians have been obtaining the greatest number of Schengen visas per capita in the world in recent years.

Members propose measures to encourage cooperation between cities and municipalities in the EU and Belarus using the good practice examples of some EU countries, especially Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. They also propose measures to support education and vocational programmes through funding for the Erasmus Mundus programme for Belarusian students.

Lastly, Parliament calls on the International Ice Hockey Federation to seriously reconsider its decision to allow Belarus to host the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship.

Documents
2013/09/12
   EP - End of procedure in Parliament
2013/09/11
   EP - Debate in Parliament
2013/07/16
   EP - Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading
Details

The Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted the own-initiative report by Justas Vincas PALECKIS (S&D, LT) containing a proposal for a recommendation to the Council, the Commission and to EEAS on EU Policy towards Belarus.

Members recall that in 1997 the European Council suspended the ratification of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement and froze the Interim Trade Agreement , and that therefore, EU-Belarus relations remain regulated by the 1989 Trade and Co-operation Agreement. Over the same period human rights and fundamental freedoms have been systematically violated with particular regard to political opponents.

In this context, Parliament addresses a series of recommendations to the Vice-President of the

Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP), the EEAS, the Council, the Commission and Member States aiming to work towards a democratic transition in this country and end its international isolation:

On political dialogue : Members want to take advantage of Lithuania’s Presidency and the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius as an opportunity to improve relations with Belarus. They ask that the EU make best use of the temporary and conditional suspension of the incumbent foreign minister from the EU visa ban list with a view to broadening the main and essential diplomatic communication channel with Belarus, whilst staying firm on the visa ban and asset freeze targeting those directly involved in violating democratic election standards and human rights.

Members also call for the preparation of a strategic ‘roadmap’, based on the ‘more for more’ principle, including priority areas for reforms in Belarus. They consider that the European Parliament must be consulted on this as soon as the elections are recognised as free and fair.

Recommendations are also made to encourage wider civil society to increase its involvement in the Dialogue on Modernisation. Members support the idea of creating a civil society conference in Vilnius.

At the same time, they urge Russia and Eastern Partnership countries to call upon Belarus to release immediately and unconditionally, all political prisoners and to restrain from any further politically motivated harassment.

Strategic policy options for reform : Members make several recommendations, amongst which are the following:

· implement fully Electoral Code reforms on the basis of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) recommendations;

· allow the re-opening of the OSCE office in Minsk, which has been closed;

· lift any obstacles and restrictions to the exercise of freedoms of association, expression, movement, peaceful assembly and thought for the democratic opposition, civil society organisations and NGOs;

· introduce the necessary institutional changes to ensure independence of the judiciary;

· not implement the execution of those sentenced to death in 2013;

· introduce a moratorium on followed by the abolition of the death penalty;

· fully modernise the penitentiary system;

· establish an independent and fully functional national human rights institution;

· guarantee equal opportunities and equal rights for, and the inclusion and non-discrimination of, all national minorities, including LGBT;

· ensure the effective freedom of and access to media.

On economic and energy cooperation : Members seek a constructive EU-Belarus technical dialogue on reforms including the privatisation of state-owned enterprises, price, trade and banking system liberalisation, and the fight against corruption.

They encourage Belarus to implement basic International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendations.

On energy measures, Members call for assistance in developing the diversification of energy resources and supply routes in Belarus and in carrying out ‘green economy’ projects. They ask for continued technical and health assistance to the population affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

On border management , the report calls for strengthening EU-Belarus cooperation on border management and the fight against cross-border crime and assisting Belarus in developing its transit system, and modernising customs and border control procedures. It proposes the provision of further training for the Belarus border management agency in line with the Schengen acquis, in view of mutual interests, as well as the provision of adequate training to the relevant Belarusian services on EU best practices in the introduction of biometric passports.

On civil society and people-to-people contacts , Members call for an increase in the share of projects with greater benefit to and visibility for the population at large, which would foster citizens’ understanding of EU values, standards and policies. They are systematically and uncompromisingly opposed to any disinformation and misleading information by the Belarusian authorities on EU policies and projects.

Members propose intensifying technical and financial support, to civil society organisations, independent NGOs, human rights defenders and trade unions based in Belarus, or those in the Member States that have a key impact in Belarus, through channels that must include the new European Endowment for Democracy,

Members want to see the Belarusian authorities required to remove criminal liability for the receipt of foreign grants and to allow organisations to keep funds in foreign bank accounts.

At the same time, they propose that consideration should be given to unilaterally facilitating the issuing of visas and reducing their cost from EUR 60 to an affordable level for Belarusian citizens, together with negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements.

Lastly, Members propose measures to encourage cooperation between cities and municipalities in the EU and Belarus using the good practice examples of some EU countries, especially Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. They also propose measures to support education and vocational programmes through funding for the Erasmus Mundus programme for Belarusian students.

Documents
2013/07/09
   EP - Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading
2013/06/13
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2013/05/06
   EP - Committee draft report
Documents
2013/03/14
   EP - Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
2012/11/27
   EP - PALECKIS Justas Vincas (S&D) appointed as rapporteur in AFET

Documents

Activities

Votes

A7-0261/2013 - Justas Vincas Paleckis - Am 1

2013/09/12 Outcome: +: 558, 0: 23, -: 9
DE FR GB IT PL ES RO CZ PT NL SE HU BE AT BG SK IE DK FI HR SI EE LU EL LT LV MT CY
Total
80
59
54
44
43
40
27
20
19
22
16
17
17
17
15
13
11
12
10
10
7
6
5
6
6
6
4
3
icon: PPE PPE
212

Czechia PPE

2

Estonia PPE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg PPE

3

Malta PPE

2

Cyprus PPE

1
icon: S&D S&D
153

Netherlands S&D

3

Ireland S&D

2

Finland S&D

2
3

Slovenia S&D

2

Estonia S&D

For (1)

1

Greece S&D

For (1)

1

Lithuania S&D

1

Malta S&D

2

Cyprus S&D

1
icon: ALDE ALDE
68

Romania ALDE

2

Austria ALDE

1

Slovakia ALDE

For (1)

1
3

Slovenia ALDE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg ALDE

For (1)

1

Greece ALDE

1

Lithuania ALDE

1
icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE
44

United Kingdom Verts/ALE

4

Spain Verts/ALE

1

Portugal Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Netherlands Verts/ALE

2

Austria Verts/ALE

2

Denmark Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Finland Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Estonia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Latvia Verts/ALE

1
icon: ECR ECR
40

Italy ECR

1

Netherlands ECR

For (1)

1

Hungary ECR

For (1)

1

Denmark ECR

For (1)

1

Croatia ECR

For (1)

1

Latvia ECR

Against (1)

1
icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL
25
2

United Kingdom GUE/NGL

1

Spain GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Czechia GUE/NGL

3

Portugal GUE/NGL

Abstain (1)

3

Netherlands GUE/NGL

2

Sweden GUE/NGL

1

Ireland GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Denmark GUE/NGL

1

Croatia GUE/NGL

1

Latvia GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Cyprus GUE/NGL

1
icon: EFD EFD
23

United Kingdom EFD

4

Netherlands EFD

For (1)

1

Belgium EFD

Abstain (1)

1

Slovakia EFD

Abstain (1)

1

Denmark EFD

Abstain (1)

1

Finland EFD

For (1)

1

Greece EFD

Abstain (1)

1

Lithuania EFD

2
icon: NI NI
24

France NI

2

United Kingdom NI

Against (1)

Abstain (1)

4

Italy NI

For (1)

1

Spain NI

1

Hungary NI

Abstain (1)

1

Belgium NI

Abstain (1)

1

Austria NI

Against (1)

Abstain (1)

4

Bulgaria NI

Against (1)

1

Ireland NI

For (1)

1

A7-0261/2013 - Justas Vincas Paleckis - Am 2

2013/09/12 Outcome: +: 341, -: 234, 0: 15
PL IT HU BG SE SI RO LU FI IE EE FR LT EL LV GB DE NL CZ HR BE MT SK AT PT CY ES DK
Total
44
43
17
15
16
8
26
5
11
10
6
61
6
6
7
53
82
22
20
10
17
4
13
18
17
1
39
12
icon: PPE PPE
211

Sweden PPE

Against (1)

3

Luxembourg PPE

3

Estonia PPE

For (1)

1

Czechia PPE

2

Malta PPE

2
icon: ALDE ALDE
69

Slovenia ALDE

2

Romania ALDE

2

Luxembourg ALDE

For (1)

1

Ireland ALDE

3

Lithuania ALDE

1

Greece ALDE

1

Slovakia ALDE

For (1)

1

Austria ALDE

1
3
icon: ECR ECR
39

Italy ECR

1

Hungary ECR

For (1)

1

Latvia ECR

For (1)

1

Netherlands ECR

For (1)

1

Croatia ECR

For (1)

1

Denmark ECR

For (1)

1
icon: EFD EFD
23

Finland EFD

Abstain (1)

1

Lithuania EFD

For (1)

Abstain (1)

2

Greece EFD

Abstain (1)

1

United Kingdom EFD

4

Netherlands EFD

Against (1)

1

Belgium EFD

Abstain (1)

1

Slovakia EFD

Against (1)

1

Denmark EFD

Against (1)

1
icon: NI NI
24

Italy NI

For (1)

1

Hungary NI

Abstain (1)

1

Bulgaria NI

Against (1)

1

Ireland NI

Against (1)

1

France NI

2

Belgium NI

Against (1)

1

Spain NI

1
icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL
24

Sweden GUE/NGL

Abstain (1)

1

Ireland GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Latvia GUE/NGL

Against (1)

1

United Kingdom GUE/NGL

Abstain (1)

1

Netherlands GUE/NGL

2

Czechia GUE/NGL

3

Croatia GUE/NGL

Against (1)

1

Portugal GUE/NGL

2

Spain GUE/NGL

Against (1)

1

Denmark GUE/NGL

1
icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE
46

Sweden Verts/ALE

3

Luxembourg Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Finland Verts/ALE

Against (1)

Abstain (1)

2

Estonia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Latvia Verts/ALE

Against (1)

1

United Kingdom Verts/ALE

4

Netherlands Verts/ALE

2
4

Austria Verts/ALE

2

Portugal Verts/ALE

Against (1)

1

Spain Verts/ALE

Against (1)

1

Denmark Verts/ALE

Against (1)

1
icon: S&D S&D
153

Hungary S&D

3

Bulgaria S&D

3

Slovenia S&D

For (1)

Against (1)

2

Finland S&D

Against (1)

2

Ireland S&D

2

Estonia S&D

Against (1)

1

Lithuania S&D

1

Greece S&D

Against (1)

1

Netherlands S&D

For (1)

3

Croatia S&D

3

Malta S&D

2

Cyprus S&D

Against (1)

1

History

(these mark the time of scraping, not the official date of the change)

committees/0
type
Responsible Committee
body
EP
associated
False
committee_full
Foreign Affairs
committee
AFET
rapporteur
name: PALECKIS Justas Vincas date: 2012-11-27T00:00:00 group: Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats abbr: S&D
committees/0
type
Responsible Committee
body
EP
associated
False
committee_full
Foreign Affairs
committee
AFET
date
2012-11-27T00:00:00
rapporteur
name: PALECKIS Justas Vincas group: Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats abbr: S&D
events/2/docs/0/url
Old
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A7-2013-261&language=EN
New
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-7-2013-0261_EN.html
events/5/docs/0/url
Old
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-382
New
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-7-2013-0382_EN.html
activities
  • date: 2013-03-14T00:00:00 body: EP type: Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading committees: body: EP responsible: True committee: AFET date: 2012-11-27T00:00:00 committee_full: Foreign Affairs rapporteur: group: S&D name: PALECKIS Justas Vincas
  • date: 2013-07-09T00:00:00 body: EP type: Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading committees: body: EP responsible: True committee: AFET date: 2012-11-27T00:00:00 committee_full: Foreign Affairs rapporteur: group: S&D name: PALECKIS Justas Vincas
  • date: 2013-07-16T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A7-2013-261&language=EN type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading title: A7-0261/2013 body: EP type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading
  • date: 2013-09-11T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?secondRef=TOC&language=EN&reference=20130911&type=CRE type: Debate in Parliament title: Debate in Parliament body: EP type: Debate in Parliament
  • date: 2013-09-12T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/sda.do?id=23298&l=en type: Results of vote in Parliament title: Results of vote in Parliament url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-382 type: Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading title: T7-0382/2013 body: EP type: Results of vote in Parliament
committees/0
type
Responsible Committee
body
EP
associated
False
committee_full
Foreign Affairs
committee
AFET
date
2012-11-27T00:00:00
rapporteur
name: PALECKIS Justas Vincas group: Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats abbr: S&D
committees/0
body
EP
responsible
True
committee
AFET
date
2012-11-27T00:00:00
committee_full
Foreign Affairs
rapporteur
group: S&D name: PALECKIS Justas Vincas
docs
  • date: 2013-05-06T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE506.234 title: PE506.234 type: Committee draft report body: EP
  • date: 2013-06-13T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE513.234 title: PE513.234 type: Amendments tabled in committee body: EP
events
  • date: 2013-03-14T00:00:00 type: Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading body: EP
  • date: 2013-07-09T00:00:00 type: Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading body: EP
  • date: 2013-07-16T00:00:00 type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading body: EP docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A7-2013-261&language=EN title: A7-0261/2013 summary: The Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted the own-initiative report by Justas Vincas PALECKIS (S&D, LT) containing a proposal for a recommendation to the Council, the Commission and to EEAS on EU Policy towards Belarus. Members recall that in 1997 the European Council suspended the ratification of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement and froze the Interim Trade Agreement , and that therefore, EU-Belarus relations remain regulated by the 1989 Trade and Co-operation Agreement. Over the same period human rights and fundamental freedoms have been systematically violated with particular regard to political opponents. In this context, Parliament addresses a series of recommendations to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP), the EEAS, the Council, the Commission and Member States aiming to work towards a democratic transition in this country and end its international isolation: On political dialogue : Members want to take advantage of Lithuania’s Presidency and the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius as an opportunity to improve relations with Belarus. They ask that the EU make best use of the temporary and conditional suspension of the incumbent foreign minister from the EU visa ban list with a view to broadening the main and essential diplomatic communication channel with Belarus, whilst staying firm on the visa ban and asset freeze targeting those directly involved in violating democratic election standards and human rights. Members also call for the preparation of a strategic ‘roadmap’, based on the ‘more for more’ principle, including priority areas for reforms in Belarus. They consider that the European Parliament must be consulted on this as soon as the elections are recognised as free and fair. Recommendations are also made to encourage wider civil society to increase its involvement in the Dialogue on Modernisation. Members support the idea of creating a civil society conference in Vilnius. At the same time, they urge Russia and Eastern Partnership countries to call upon Belarus to release immediately and unconditionally, all political prisoners and to restrain from any further politically motivated harassment. Strategic policy options for reform : Members make several recommendations, amongst which are the following: · implement fully Electoral Code reforms on the basis of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) recommendations; · allow the re-opening of the OSCE office in Minsk, which has been closed; · lift any obstacles and restrictions to the exercise of freedoms of association, expression, movement, peaceful assembly and thought for the democratic opposition, civil society organisations and NGOs; · introduce the necessary institutional changes to ensure independence of the judiciary; · not implement the execution of those sentenced to death in 2013; · introduce a moratorium on followed by the abolition of the death penalty; · fully modernise the penitentiary system; · establish an independent and fully functional national human rights institution; · guarantee equal opportunities and equal rights for, and the inclusion and non-discrimination of, all national minorities, including LGBT; · ensure the effective freedom of and access to media. On economic and energy cooperation : Members seek a constructive EU-Belarus technical dialogue on reforms including the privatisation of state-owned enterprises, price, trade and banking system liberalisation, and the fight against corruption. They encourage Belarus to implement basic International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendations. On energy measures, Members call for assistance in developing the diversification of energy resources and supply routes in Belarus and in carrying out ‘green economy’ projects. They ask for continued technical and health assistance to the population affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. On border management , the report calls for strengthening EU-Belarus cooperation on border management and the fight against cross-border crime and assisting Belarus in developing its transit system, and modernising customs and border control procedures. It proposes the provision of further training for the Belarus border management agency in line with the Schengen acquis, in view of mutual interests, as well as the provision of adequate training to the relevant Belarusian services on EU best practices in the introduction of biometric passports. On civil society and people-to-people contacts , Members call for an increase in the share of projects with greater benefit to and visibility for the population at large, which would foster citizens’ understanding of EU values, standards and policies. They are systematically and uncompromisingly opposed to any disinformation and misleading information by the Belarusian authorities on EU policies and projects. Members propose intensifying technical and financial support, to civil society organisations, independent NGOs, human rights defenders and trade unions based in Belarus, or those in the Member States that have a key impact in Belarus, through channels that must include the new European Endowment for Democracy, Members want to see the Belarusian authorities required to remove criminal liability for the receipt of foreign grants and to allow organisations to keep funds in foreign bank accounts. At the same time, they propose that consideration should be given to unilaterally facilitating the issuing of visas and reducing their cost from EUR 60 to an affordable level for Belarusian citizens, together with negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements. Lastly, Members propose measures to encourage cooperation between cities and municipalities in the EU and Belarus using the good practice examples of some EU countries, especially Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. They also propose measures to support education and vocational programmes through funding for the Erasmus Mundus programme for Belarusian students.
  • date: 2013-09-11T00:00:00 type: Debate in Parliament body: EP docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?secondRef=TOC&language=EN&reference=20130911&type=CRE title: Debate in Parliament
  • date: 2013-09-12T00:00:00 type: Results of vote in Parliament body: EP docs: url: https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/sda.do?id=23298&l=en title: Results of vote in Parliament
  • date: 2013-09-12T00:00:00 type: Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading body: EP docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-382 title: T7-0382/2013 summary: The European Parliament adopted a resolution containing a proposal for a recommendation to the Council, the Commission and to EEAS on EU Policy towards Belarus. Parliament recalls that in 1997 the European Council suspended the ratification of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement and froze the Interim Trade Agreement , and that therefore, EU-Belarus relations remain regulated by the 1989 Trade and Co-operation Agreement. It also recalls that although EU-Belarus relations improved between 2008-2010, the brutal crackdown following the 2010 presidential elections and tightening of repressive policy, led to a significant deterioration of these relations. In this context, Parliament addresses a series of recommendations to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP), the EEAS, the Council, the Commission and Member States aiming to work towards a democratic transition in this country and end its international isolation: On political dialogue : Parliament wants to take advantage of Lithuania’s Presidency and the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius as an opportunity to improve relations with Belarus. In an amendment adopted in plenary, Parliament takes note of the release from prison of Dzmitry Dashkevich and Aliaksandr Franskevich, in August and September 2013 respectively, but deplore the fact that these former political prisoners only regained their freedom once they had served their full prison sentences. Members ask that the EU make best use of the temporary and conditional suspension of the incumbent foreign minister from the EU visa ban list with a view to broadening the main and essential diplomatic communication channel with Belarus, whilst staying firm on the visa ban and asset freeze targeting those directly involved in violating democratic election standards and human rights. Parliament also calls for the preparation of a strategic ‘roadmap’, based on the ‘more for more’ principle, including priority areas for reforms in Belarus. It considers that the European Parliament must be consulted on this as soon as the elections are recognised as free and fair. Recommendations are also made to encourage wider civil society to increase its involvement in the Dialogue on Modernisation. Members support the idea of creating a civil society conference in Vilnius. At the same time, they urge Russia and Eastern Partnership countries to call upon Belarus to release immediately and unconditionally, all political prisoners and to restrain from any further politically motivated harassment . Strategic policy options for reform : Parliament makes several recommendations, amongst which are the following: implement fully Electoral Code reforms on the basis of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) recommendations; allow the re-opening of the OSCE office in Minsk, which has been closed; lift any obstacles and restrictions to the exercise of freedoms of association, expression, movement, peaceful assembly and thought for the democratic opposition, civil society organisations and NGOs; introduce the necessary institutional changes to ensure independence of the judiciary; not implement the execution of those sentenced to death in 2013; introduce a moratorium on followed by the abolition of the death penalty; fully modernise the penitentiary system; establish an independent and fully functional national human rights institution; guarantee equal opportunities and equal rights for, and the inclusion and non-discrimination of, all national minorities, including LGBT; ensure the effective freedom of and access to media. Plenary insists that Belarus should fully cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus to address the serious concerns expressed in his report of April 2013 and, as a first step, grant him entry into the country. On economic and energy cooperation : Parliament seeks a constructive EU-Belarus technical dialogue on reforms including the privatisation of state-owned enterprises, price, trade and banking system liberalisation, and the fight against corruption. It encourages Belarus to implement basic International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendations. On energy measures , Parliament calls for assistance in developing the diversification of energy resources and supply routes in Belarus and in carrying out ‘green economy’ projects. It asks for continued technical and health assistance to the population affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. On border management , the resolution calls for strengthening EU-Belarus cooperation on border management and the fight against cross-border crime and assisting Belarus in developing its transit system, and modernising customs and border control procedures. It proposes the provision of further training for the Belarus border management agency in line with the Schengen acquis, in view of mutual interests, as well as the provision of adequate training to the relevant Belarusian services on EU best practices in the introduction of biometric passports. On civil society and people-to-people contacts , Parliament calls for an increase in the share of projects with greater benefit to and visibility for the population at large, which would foster citizens’ understanding of EU values, standards and policies. It is systematically and uncompromisingly opposed to any disinformation and misleading information by the Belarusian authorities on EU policies and projects. In an amendment adopted in plenary, Parliament requests that support should be given to or ganisations working to promote democracy and human rights, not only those based in Belarus, but also those based abroad, given that the Belarusian authorities consistently deny such organisations the possibility of registration. A revision should be made, as a matter of urgency, of the latest new rules on applying for EU funding under the EIDHR/NSLA instrument , which in practice exclude well-known and respected Belarusian NGOs from the application process. Parliament proposes intensifying technical and financial support, to civil society organisations, independent NGOs, human rights defenders and trade unions based in Belarus, or those in the Member States that have a key impact in Belarus, through channels that must include the new European Endowment for Democracy. Members want to see the Belarusian authorities required to remove criminal liability for the receipt of foreign grants and to allow organisations to keep funds in foreign bank accounts. At the same time, they propose that consideration should be given to unilaterally facilitating the issuing of visas and reducing their cost from EUR 60 to an affordable level for Belarusian citizens, together with negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements given that Belarusians have been obtaining the greatest number of Schengen visas per capita in the world in recent years. Members propose measures to encourage cooperation between cities and municipalities in the EU and Belarus using the good practice examples of some EU countries, especially Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. They also propose measures to support education and vocational programmes through funding for the Erasmus Mundus programme for Belarusian students. Lastly, Parliament calls on the International Ice Hockey Federation to seriously reconsider its decision to allow Belarus to host the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship.
  • date: 2013-09-12T00:00:00 type: End of procedure in Parliament body: EP
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    The European Parliament adopted a resolution containing a proposal for a recommendation to the Council, the Commission and to EEAS on EU Policy towards Belarus.

    Parliament recalls that in 1997 the European Council suspended the ratification of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement and froze the Interim Trade Agreement, and that therefore, EU-Belarus relations remain regulated by the 1989 Trade and Co-operation Agreement. It also recalls that although EU-Belarus relations improved between 2008-2010, the brutal crackdown following the 2010 presidential elections and tightening of repressive policy, led to a significant deterioration of these relations.

    In this context, Parliament addresses a series of recommendations to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP), the EEAS, the Council, the Commission and Member States aiming to work towards a democratic transition in this country and end its international isolation:

    On political dialogue: Parliament wants to take advantage of Lithuania’s Presidency and the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius as an opportunity to improve relations with Belarus. In an amendment adopted in plenary, Parliament takes note of the release from prison of Dzmitry Dashkevich and Aliaksandr Franskevich, in August and September 2013 respectively, but deplore the fact that these former political prisoners only regained their freedom once they had served their full prison sentences.

    Members ask that the EU make best use of the temporary and conditional suspension of the incumbent foreign minister from the EU visa ban list with a view to broadening the main and essential diplomatic communication channel with Belarus, whilst staying firm on the visa ban and asset freeze targeting those directly involved in violating democratic election standards and human rights.

    Parliament also calls for the preparation of a strategic ‘roadmap’, based on the ‘more for more’ principle, including priority areas for reforms in Belarus.  It considers that the European Parliament must be consulted on this as soon as the elections are recognised as free and fair. 

    Recommendations are also made to encourage wider civil society to increase its involvement in the Dialogue on Modernisation. Members support the idea of creating a civil society conference in Vilnius.

    At the same time, they urge Russia and Eastern Partnership countries to call upon Belarus to release immediately and unconditionally, all political prisoners and to restrain from any further politically motivated harassment.

    Strategic policy options for reform: Parliament makes several recommendations, amongst which are the following:

    • implement fully Electoral Code reforms on the basis of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) recommendations;
    • allow the re-opening of the OSCE office in Minsk, which has been closed;
    • lift any obstacles and restrictions to the exercise of freedoms of association, expression, movement, peaceful assembly and thought for the democratic opposition, civil society organisations and NGOs;
    • introduce the necessary institutional changes to ensure independence of the judiciary;
    • not implement the execution of those sentenced to death in 2013;
    • introduce a moratorium on followed by the abolition of the death penalty;
    • fully modernise the penitentiary system;
    • establish an independent and fully functional national human rights institution;
    • guarantee equal opportunities and equal rights for, and the inclusion and non-discrimination of, all national minorities, including LGBT;
    • ensure the effective freedom of and access to media.

    Plenary insists that Belarus should fully cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus to address the serious concerns expressed in his report of April 2013 and, as a first step, grant him entry into the country.

    On economic and energy cooperation: Parliament seeks a constructive EU-Belarus technical dialogue on reforms including the privatisation of state-owned enterprises, price, trade and banking system liberalisation, and the fight against corruption.

    It encourages Belarus to implement basic International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendations.

    On energy measures, Parliament calls for assistance in developing the diversification of energy resources and supply routes in Belarus and in carrying out ‘green economy’ projects. It asks for continued technical and health assistance to the population affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

    On border management, the resolution calls for strengthening EU-Belarus cooperation on border management and the fight against cross-border crime and assisting Belarus in developing its transit system, and modernising customs and border control procedures.  It proposes the provision of further training for the Belarus border management agency in line with the Schengen acquis, in view of mutual interests, as well as the provision of adequate training to the relevant Belarusian services on EU best practices in the introduction of biometric passports.

    On civil society and people-to-people contacts, Parliament calls for an increase in the share of projects with greater benefit to and visibility for the population at large, which would foster citizens’ understanding of EU values, standards and policies. It is systematically and uncompromisingly opposed to any disinformation and misleading information by the Belarusian authorities on EU policies and projects. 

    In an amendment adopted in plenary, Parliament requests that support should be given to organisations working to promote democracy and human rights, not only those based in Belarus, but also those based abroad, given that the Belarusian authorities consistently deny such organisations the possibility of registration. A revision should be made, as a matter of urgency, of the latest new rules on applying for EU funding under the EIDHR/NSLA instrument, which in practice exclude well-known and respected Belarusian NGOs from the application process.

    Parliament proposes intensifying technical and financial support, to civil society organisations, independent NGOs, human rights defenders and trade unions based in Belarus, or those in the Member States that have a key impact in Belarus, through channels that must include the new European Endowment for Democracy.

    Members want to see the Belarusian authorities required to remove criminal liability for the receipt of foreign grants and to allow organisations to keep funds in foreign bank accounts.

    At the same time, they propose that consideration should be given to unilaterally facilitating the issuing of visas and reducing their cost from EUR 60 to an affordable level for Belarusian citizens, together with negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements given that Belarusians have been obtaining the greatest number of Schengen visas per capita in the world in recent years.

    Members propose measures to encourage cooperation between cities and municipalities in the EU and Belarus using the good practice examples of some EU countries, especially Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. They also propose measures to support education and vocational programmes through funding for the Erasmus Mundus programme for Belarusian students.

    Lastly, Parliament calls on the International Ice Hockey Federation to seriously reconsider its decision to allow Belarus to host the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship.

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    • The Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted the own-initiative report by Justas Vincas PALECKIS (S&D, LT) containing a proposal for a recommendation to the Council, the Commission and to EEAS on EU Policy towards Belarus.

      Members recall that in 1997 the European Council suspended the ratification of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement and froze the Interim Trade Agreement, and that therefore, EU-Belarus relations remain regulated by the 1989 Trade and Co-operation Agreement. Over the same period human rights and fundamental freedoms have been systematically violated with particular regard to political opponents.

      In this context, Parliament addresses a series of recommendations to the Vice-President of the

      Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP), the EEAS, the Council, the Commission and Member States aiming to work towards a democratic transition in this country and end its international isolation:

      On political dialogue: Members want to take advantage of Lithuania’s Presidency and the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius as an opportunity to improve relations with Belarus. They ask that the EU make best use of the temporary and conditional suspension of the incumbent foreign minister from the EU visa ban list with a view to broadening the main and essential diplomatic communication channel with Belarus, whilst staying firm on the visa ban and asset freeze targeting those directly involved in violating democratic election standards and human rights.

      Members also call for the preparation of a strategic ‘roadmap’, based on the ‘more for more’ principle, including priority areas for reforms in Belarus.  They consider that the European Parliament must be consulted on this as soon as the elections are recognised as free and fair. 

      Recommendations are also made to encourage wider civil society to increase its involvement in the Dialogue on Modernisation. Members support the idea of creating a civil society conference in Vilnius.

      At the same time, they urge Russia and Eastern Partnership countries to call upon Belarus to release immediately and unconditionally, all political prisoners and to restrain from any further politically motivated harassment.

      Strategic policy options for reform: Members make several recommendations, amongst which are the following:

      ·        implement fully Electoral Code reforms on the basis of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) recommendations;

      ·        allow the re-opening of the OSCE office in Minsk, which has been closed;

      ·        lift any obstacles and restrictions to the exercise of freedoms of association, expression, movement, peaceful assembly and thought for the democratic opposition, civil society organisations and NGOs;

      ·        introduce the necessary institutional changes to ensure independence of the judiciary;

      ·        not implement the execution of those sentenced to death in 2013;

      ·        introduce a moratorium on followed by the abolition of the death penalty;

      ·        fully modernise the penitentiary system;

      ·        establish an independent and fully functional national human rights institution;

      ·        guarantee equal opportunities and equal rights for, and the inclusion and non-discrimination of, all national minorities, including LGBT;

      ·        ensure the effective freedom of and access to media.

      On economic and energy cooperation: Members seek a constructive EU-Belarus technical dialogue on reforms including the privatisation of state-owned enterprises, price, trade and banking system liberalisation, and the fight against corruption.

      They encourage Belarus to implement basic International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendations.

      On energy measures, Members call for assistance in developing the diversification of energy resources and supply routes in Belarus and in carrying out ‘green economy’ projects. They ask for continued technical and health assistance to the population affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

      On border management, the report calls for strengthening EU-Belarus cooperation on border management and the fight against cross-border crime and assisting Belarus in developing its transit system, and modernising customs and border control procedures.  It proposes the provision of further training for the Belarus border management agency in line with the Schengen acquis, in view of mutual interests, as well as the provision of adequate training to the relevant Belarusian services on EU best practices in the introduction of biometric passports.

      On civil society and people-to-people contacts, Members call for an increase in the share of projects with greater benefit to and visibility for the population at large, which would foster citizens’ understanding of EU values, standards and policies. They are systematically and uncompromisingly opposed to any disinformation and misleading information by the Belarusian authorities on EU policies and projects. 

      Members propose intensifying technical and financial support, to civil society organisations, independent NGOs, human rights defenders and trade unions based in Belarus, or those in the Member States that have a key impact in Belarus, through channels that must include the new European Endowment for Democracy,

      Members want to see the Belarusian authorities required to remove criminal liability for the receipt of foreign grants and to allow organisations to keep funds in foreign bank accounts.

      At the same time, they propose that consideration should be given to unilaterally facilitating the issuing of visas and reducing their cost from EUR 60 to an affordable level for Belarusian citizens, together with negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements.

      Lastly, Members propose measures to encourage cooperation between cities and municipalities in the EU and Belarus using the good practice examples of some EU countries, especially Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. They also propose measures to support education and vocational programmes through funding for the Erasmus Mundus programme for Belarusian students.

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