EU and Ukraine deepen their Association Agreement, facing Russia

Ukraine's association with the EU deepens while Russia provides national passports to dwellers at Crimea and Sevastopol

Eva González Kyiiv (Ukraine), 8 July, 2019

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, held a meeting today with the representatives of the EU Union headed by Donald Tusk (exiting President of the Council) and Jean Claude Juncker (exiting President of the EU Commission) in Kyiiv today taking a step forward to implant the Association Agreement signed with the European Union that entered into force in September 2017.

Donald Tusk (exiting President of teh EU Council) declared during the joint press conference with the President of Ukraine afther the meeting: “Only a few days ago, the EU unanimously extended the economic sanctions against Russia for another six months. The sanctions will remain in place until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented.

From left to right: Donald Tusk, President of the European Council; Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine; Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. © European Union

The President of Ukraine has chosen Brussels as the destination of his first visit abroad. The EU welcomed this decission as well as the fact that Zelensky was elected in a free and fair presidential elections. But the corruption issue and the need for effective actions to reduce it was mentioned more than once in the joint decalaration.

In fact the EU welcomes in the joint declaration the appointment of the judges to the High Anti-Corruption Court and progress towards making the High Anti-Corruption Court operational. We agreed on the urgent need to re-criminalise illicit enrichment and to ensure the necessary independence and effective functioning of all anti-corruption institutions.

There were many points in the EU-Ukraine joint declaration signed today. Eastwind just has picked some of the most relevant from an economic point of view.

EU agrees to pay the 2nd tranche of the macro-financial assistance programe

The EU stands ready to disburse the 2nd tranche (€500 million) of the fourth macro-financial assistance programme as soon as relevant conditions are implemented.

Both sides stressed the importance of Ukraine maintaining macro-economic stability, keeping the IMF programme on track and implementing all actions within the EU macro-financial assistance programme, as well as maintaining the independence of the National Bank and the stability of the financial sector.

Updated energy annex

The Eu welcomed the adoption of the updated energy annex of the Association Agreement. Both parties further agreed on the need to complete gas and electricity market reform, including completion of unbundling, with a view to a progressive integration with the EU energy market.

From left to right: Donald Tusk, President of the European Council; Volodymyr Groysman, Prime Minister of Ukraine.© European Union

The EU reaffirmed Ukraine’s role as a strategic transit country for gas, ensuring affordable, secure and sustainable supplies to the EU. In this context, we reconfirmed our readiness to engage in a trilateral process facilitated by the European Commission on the contractual framework for gas transit to the EU after 2019.

50% in bilateral trade thanks to the Free Trade Area

In the joint declaration after the meeting the EU and Ukraine welcome the success of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, which has supported the increase of bilateral trade flows by about 50% since the start of its application in January 2016.

Despite this fact, the EU reminds Ukraine that a new legislation on industrial products must be in force in the country before any negotiation on acceptance of industrial products may start: “The EU welcomed and acknowledged the progress made by Ukraine to approximate its legislation in the area of technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment as envisaged by the AA/DCFTA. Before the EU and Ukraine can start the negotiations on an Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products, the EU recalls that the required legislation should be adopted, entered into force and effectively implemented by the relevant Ukrainian institutions.”

Common Aviation Area Agreement as soon as possible

We agreed to improve connectivity between Ukraine, the EU and other countries of Eastern Partnership with a view to facilitating trade, further developing safe and sustainable transport links and supporting people-to-people contacts. We noted the urgency to adopt relevant reform laws in this area, in line with the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. We recalled the importance of concluding the Common Aviation Area Agreement at the earliest possible date.

On the crash of the flight MH17  that happened on 17th July 2014, the EU and Ukraine welcome the announcement by the Joint Investigation Team on 19 June 2019 that criminal charges will be brought in the Netherlands against four individuals, call on Russia to cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation, and express their full confidence in the independence and professionalism of the legal procedures that lie ahead.

EU renews its political and economic support to Ukraine

Tusk assured during the press conference after the meeting that the EU on the actions to be taken by the EU to avoid Russia’s annexion of the occupied territories in Ukraine: “The June European Council also called on Russia to release without any further delay the detained 24 Ukrainian servicemen and ensure unhindered and free passage to and from the Azov Sea.

“We condemn the Russian measures entitling Ukrainian citizens of the areas currently not under the control of the Government to apply for Russian citizenship in a simplified manner. This runs counter to the Minsk agreements and we stand ready to consider further options, including non-recognition of such Russian passports.

From left to right: Donald Tusk, President of the European Council; Volodymyr Groysman, Prime Minister of Ukraine.© European Union

“Yesterday, I visited eastern Ukraine to witness first-hand the situation at the line of contact. It is clear that the Minsk agreements need – more than ever before – to be implemented by all sides. Russia has a particular responsibility in this regard. Today we reaffirmed our full support for the diplomatic efforts in the Normandy format, the OSCE and Trilateral Contact Group, to find a peaceful solution that respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“During my visit yesterday, I saw the disengagement of forces near Stanitsa Luhanska. This encouraging step now needs to be further strengthened. We expect Russia to make full use of its considerable influence over the separatists to make this possible.

“But I also witnessed the critical situation in which people affected by conflict live. The EU continues to support the efforts to alleviate the suffering that I saw, hand in hand with OSCE, UN agencies as well as international NGOs. The EU also stands ready to support reconstruction, once the Minsk agreements are implemented.

“At our last two Summits I mentioned Oleh Sentsov. In December, he won the Sakharov Prize, which the European Parliament awards to those who have dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedom of thought. Unfortunately, Oleh is still imprisoned. I renew our call to Russia to release him and all illegally detained Ukrainians in Russia and the Crimean peninsula.”

From left to right: Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations; Stepan Kubiv, Minister for Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine at the EU-Ukraine joint declaration signing ceremony. © European Union

On this same point, the joint declaration signed by Ukraine and the EU today underscores: “We reiterated our strong condemnation of the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. We continue to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia, the militarisation of the peninsula and the severe deterioration of the human rights situation there.”.

Image over the headline.- From left to right: Jean-Claude JUNCKER, President of the European Commission; Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine and Donald Tusk, President of the European Council preside the signing ceremony. ©  European Union

Related external links:

EU-Ukraine joint declaration

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