Štefan Füle: AA/DCFTAs not conceived at Russia’s expense

“The Customs Union membership is not compatible with the DCFTAs which we have negotiated with Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia,” Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle said, speaking at the plenary sitting of the European Parliament.

“This is not because of ideological differences; this is not about a clash of economic blocs, or a zero-sum game. This is due to legal impossibilities: for instance, you cannot at the same time lower your customs tariffs as per the DCFTA and increase them as a result of the Customs Union membership,” he said.

“It may certainly be possible for members of the Eastern Partnership to increase their cooperation with the Customs Union, perhaps as observers; and participation in a DCFTA is of course fully compatible with our partners’ existing free trade agreements with other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) states,” the Commissioner added..

“The development of the Eurasian Economic Union project must respect our partners’ sovereign decisions.  Any threats from Russia linked to the possible signing of agreements with the European Union are unacceptable, Commissioner Füle said, adding that  This applies to all forms of pressure, including: the possible misuse of energy pricing; artificial trade obstacles such as import bans of dubious WTO compatibility and cumbersome customs procedures; military cooperation and security guarantees: and the instrumentalisation of protracted conflicts.

“AA/DCFTAs are not conceived at Russia’s expense.  On the contrary, Russia will also benefit greatly from the integration of the Eastern Partnership countries into the wider European economy.  Our vision is that these agreements should contribute in the long term to the eventual creation of a common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok, based on WTO rules.”

“So we encourage our partners to deepen their ties with Russia, as we do ourselves, but in a way which is compatible with AA/DCFTA obligations.  The European Union is ready to work with its neighbours to find ways to promote greater regulatory convergence between the EU and members of the Customs Union.  The last thing we want to see is a protectionist wall cutting our continent in two.  In today’s ever-more-competitive global economy, we cannot afford to waste our efforts on a regional geopolitical rivalry,” Commissioner Füle stated.

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