A year ago, on 16 September 2014, the simultaneous ratification of the Association Agreement by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the European Parliament became an unprecedented manifestation of solidarity between Ukraine and the European Union. The members of the Ukrainian and European Parliaments, by overwhelming majority, reiterated a common aspiration of Ukraine and the EU for far-reaching rapprochement through building up mutual relations on the principles of political association and economic integration.
And today we remain united as systemic, institutional, political and economic reforms are underway in Ukraine and as we are working towards a peaceful solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. The Association Agreement is a roadmap on this path, and the European Parliament will at all times stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Verkhovna Rada in the course of the implementation of this Agreement and the reforms Ukraine needs. They are a guarantee of realisation of Ukraine's European choice and a genuine chance to significantly improve the livelihoods of common Ukrainians.
We look forward to full-fledged entry into force of the Association Agreement on 1 January 2016 and we encourage the remaining parliaments of the EU Member States to conclude the ratification procedure in time.
As we enter a busy political season, many important decisions lie ahead - from constitutional amendments on decentralisation and judiciary reform to the local elections on 25 October, which the European Parliament will observe. The full implementation of the Minsk agreements will remain of key importance. By the end of the year we also expect positive decisions concerning visa liberalisation, which will bring tangible benefits for the Ukrainian people.
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the European Parliament will continue close cooperation aimed at capacity building of the Ukrainian Parliament. In fulfilment of the Memorandum we signed on 3 July 2015, a Needs Assessment Mission has already started its work in Ukraine and by the end of this year will prepare a report and roadmap for a comprehensive reform of the Verkhovna Rada.
We welcome the intensive bilateral agenda existing between the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the European Parliament which corresponds fully to the spirit of the Association Agreement and contributes to sustainable and strong solidarity between Ukraine and the European Union.