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STRASBOURG, February 24, 4:35 /ITAR-TASS/ A plenary session of the Europarliament (EP) opens here on Monday, with the aggravation of the political crisis in Ukraine being the key item on the agenda.
"EU sanctions and further diplomatic efforts towards ending bloody clashes in Ukraine will be discussed by EP members on Wednesday afternoon. Voting on a respective resolution is scheduled for Thursday," an official in the EP press service told Itar-Tass.
An official parliamentary delegation left for Kiev on Saturday to discuss support, which the EU could give to the country for getting out of the crisis, with the Verkhbovna Rada members.
"The parliamentary mission spent two days in Ukraine," the press service official recalled. "This was the same group of deputies, representing all EP parties, that visited Kiev at the end of January". The delegation was led by Elmar Brok, chairman of the EP committee for international affairs. During the present session, he is expected to give a news conference on the results of the trip to Ukraine, just as he did two weeks ago.
The EP discussed Ukraine's crisis a fortnight ago. At that time, the parliamentarians demanded that the protesters "refrain from the use of force and uphold the legitimacy of their aspiractions peacefully". The EP members were also calling on the opposition leaders "to conduct protest actions peacefully".
In the opinion of EP members, a way out of the political crisis in Ukraine could be partially "in reverting to the Constitution of 2004: along with the formation of a transitional government and the holding of an early election". Besides, the EP members suggested setting up a permanent parliamentary mission in Ukraine and and applying targeted sanctions against Ukrainian politicians, officials and their business sponsors that are responsible for the death of protesters during the "Euromaidan".
"A discussion of how the results of the referendum in Switzerland on limiting the number of migrants will influence that country's relations with the EU will be held on Wednesday with the participation of the European Commission and the EU Council. At the beginning of this month, 50.3 percent of Swiss people upheld the idea of returning to the system of quotas for foreigners and limiting the number of migrants of various categories (residents of border areas, and refugees)," the EP press service official pointed out. The proposal had been brought up for the referendum by the Swiss People's Party (SPP). At present, quotas for foreign specialists do not apply only to those EU countries with which the EU has been having an Agreement on free travel of citizens since 2002. It is precisely that Agreement that the SPP now suggests dissolving.
Commenting on the results of the polling, EP President Martin Schulz did not rule out the possiblity of a revision by the EU of the free travel agreement with Switzerland. "If, in furtheranc of the referendum, Switzerlanf would havr to introduce amendments to the legislation and limit the freedom of travel also for EU citizens, then we would have to react to that and, possibly, revise the Agreement," Schulz pointed out.
Those present at the EP session will also vote on sriffening the European anti-tobacco legislation. Appropriate amendments were already brought up for discussion by the EP in autumn last year and gave rise to a heated debate. Following that, EP member Linda McAvan (UK) agreed to discuss the reform with representatives of all the 28 EU member-states. As a result, the sides agreed to enlarge the size of inscriptions warning about the harm of smoking on the packs of tobacco products up to 65 percent of the area on the obverse and reverse sides of packs instead of the present 30 percent. Besides, the EP members suggested withdrawing from sale thin cigarettes and packs containing less than 20 cigarettes.
Nevertheless, the anti-tobacco reform suggested by the European Commission was softened. "The tobacco lobby turned out to be very aggressive," McAvan pointed out.
The present EP session is to end on Thursday.