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The recent flow of disinformation in Europe, following the crisis in Ukraine, has underlined the need to consider the influence it has on social and political processes in the EU and the Eastern neighbouring countries. The impact caused by disinformation is often underestimated, as heavily funded disinformation is being spread not only via media, but also through cultural channels and public figures; its presence is strong and influential in the lives of European citizens, especially in Eastern Europe.
The Neighbourhood policy is high on the agenda of the EESC's external relations priorities. This opinion will provide the contribution of the Committee to this consultation process as a first step, to be followed by a reaction to the Commission document that will be issued in the 2nd semester of 2015.
At the Vilnius Summit, which took place on 28-29 November 2013, it was expected that Ukraine, as the first of the EaP countries, would sign the Association Agreement, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, with the European Union. However, the Ukrainian Government, rather unexpectedly, took the decision to temporarily suspend the process of preparations for signature of the Association Agreement. This decision caused political turmoil and instability in the whole country, with, to this day, far-reaching political consequences.
The EESC is strongly of the view that agriculture is an extremely important sector for the economic, social and regional development of the partnership countries. Meeting the objectives set will require favourable agricultural development. Investing in agriculture and developing the sector are also key conditions for reducing poverty in rural areas.