Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

European Neighbourhood Policy: There is strength in numbers

15th November 2007

Strasbourg, 15th November 2007 -- Strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) aims to bring Ukraine and Belarus into the family of nations and further widen the free trade area.

Dr Charles Tannock MEP, Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman and Co-Rapporteur on the report on strengthening the ENP, said the policy was proving a valuable tool in creating a ring of friends around the European Union to improve trade, travel and political co-operation against terrorism and people trafficking.

He said: "It is self evident that everybody needs good neighbours. In an uncertain and ever-changing world, the EU needs to develop relations with countries on its periphery that are based on security, stability and mutual benefit."

And it could help countries like Ukraine and Moldova eventually apply for EU membership, he added.

"Certainly matters in terms of visa facilitation, readmission and, post Ukraine's WTO accession, a deep EU free trade agreement, are progressing well with Ukraine and will be extended to other South Caucasus countries in due course. The eventual aim to the east must be visa free travel. The ENP will help generally to consolidate these countries' wishes to anchor themselves to European institutions.

"The report also recognises the suffering of the people of Belarus and the bravery of the country's democratic forces. We need to be ready, as and when the Lukashenko regime crumbles, to welcome Belarus back into the ENP and grant it a European perspective."