MEPs approve suspension of EU duties on all Ukrainian exports

The European Parliament voted on May 19 to approve a one-year suspension of EU import duties on all Ukrainian exports, to support the country’s economy.

This temporary trade liberalisation, endorsed by 515 votes, with 32 against and 11 abstentions, is a response to the impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine, which is hampering the country’s ability to trade, a statement by the European Parliament said.

The measures were expedited to enable the May 19 adoption in plenary.

They will fully remove import duties on industrial products, entry duties on fruit and vegetables, as well as anti-dumping duties and safeguard measures on steel imports for a period of one year.

The EU is Ukraine’s most important trading partner, accounting for more than 40 per cent of its total trade in goods in 2021.

In return, Ukraine has been the EU’s 15th largest trading partner, representing around 1.2 per cent of overall EU trade.

In a separate vote on May 19, the European Parliament welcomed the European Commission’s proposal for a sixth sanctions package against Russia and Belarus and called on EU countries in the Council to ensure its comprehensive and swift implementation.

All EU sanctions issued against Russia must be strictly mirrored for Belarus and implemented appropriately, MEPs said, “including in all future rounds of sanctions”.

The resolution also underlined the need for a comprehensive investigation into the crimes committed by Aliaksandr Lukashenko’s regime against the Belarusian people.

It called on EU countries to actively apply the universal jurisdiction principle and prepare court cases against Belarusian officials responsible for or complicit in violence and repression, including Lukashenko himself.

In another vote on May 19, MEPs approved new rules that will allow Eurojust to safely store and analyse evidence related to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

The European Parliament voted to extend the mandate of Eurojust, the EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, with 560 votes in favour, 17 against and 18 abstaining.

These new powers would allow the agency to store and analyse evidence related to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. This evidence could consist of DNA profiles, fingerprints, photographs, videos and audio recordings.

Under the new rules, Eurojust could also process data related to these types of crimes, and share the data with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other international organisations, as well as EU member state authorities.

The proposal to give Eurojust new powers to support war crime investigations was put forward after ample evidence emerged of war crimes by Russia in Ukraine.

(Photo: Sam LeVan/

For The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine, please click here.

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