Important progress outlined at the recent EU-Ukraine summit

On July 8, 2019, Kiev hosted the 21st EU-Ukraine Summit. The meeting was attended by Donald Tusk (President of the European Council), Jean-Claude Juncker (President of the European Commission) and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskiy, as shown in a European Council statement.

The participants used this event as an opportunity to reaffirm the strength of political and economic relations between the EU and Ukraine. In a joint statement issued after the summit, the EU expresses its support for Ukraine’s political and economic integration, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, welcoming the holding of free and fair presidential elections, as it looks forward to the July 21st parliamentary elections.

The document released to the public at the end of the meeting includes a number of relevant issues concerning the evolution of bilateral EU-Ukraine relations:

  • The EU welcomes the fact that the President of Ukraine chose Brussels as his first visit abroad;
  • The success of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) is demonstrated by an increase in bilateral trade flows of around 50% since its application in January 2016;
  • The EU stands ready to pay the second tranche (EUR 500 million) for the fourth macro-financial assistance program to Ukraine as soon as the „relevant conditions” are implemented;
  • The EU recognizes the substantial progress made by Ukraine in the reform process in areas such as health, decentralization of the public system, pensions, public administration and public procurement;
  • EU leaders underline the importance of rule of law, effective governance and economic opportunities as means of combating foreign influences and destabilizing attempts;
  • The EU is committed to further supporting Ukraine in combating cyber- and hybrid threats, as well as misinformation, including through strategic communications;
  • The EU welcomes the two years of successful implementation of the visa-free regime and underlines the importance of the fight against corruption. In this respect, there is mention of the appointment of judges at the High Anti-Corruption Court and the progress made towards ensuring the functioning of the High Anti-Corruption Court;
  • The EU welcomes the adoption of the updated energy annex to the Association Agreement, focused on completion the reform of the gas and electricity markets, including the completion of the separation process, with a view to a progressive integration with the EU energy market;
  • Leaders at the meeting agreed to improve connectivity between Ukraine, the EU and other Eastern Partnership countries, in order to facilitate trade, further develop safe and sustainable transport links and support people-to-people contacts;
  • The EU reiterated the strong condemnation of the clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity „by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014” The EU also expressed its extreme concern about the escalation of conflicts in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, as well as Russia’s violation of international law;
  • The EU has agreed to continue to work together to address the socio-economic and humanitarian consequences of the conflict, highlighting the need to ensure water, electricity and gas supply through the contact line to facilitate the movement of people and goods to ensure that people living in areas not under the control of Kyiv fully enjoy their rights as citizens of Ukraine;
  • The EU reaffirmed its full support to the endeavours of the Normandy format, the OSCE, including the work of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, and the Trilateral Contact Group.

Finally, representatives of the two sides have called for an acceleration of the trial concerning the aviation tragedy in 2014. July 17 marks 5 years since the crash of flight MH17, which claimed the lives of 298 victims. Thus, EU representatives „look forward to the effective prosecution of those responsible for this tragedy and called on the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility and to cooperate fully with all efforts to establish accountability”, the quoted source mentioned.

„Our partnership is built on the Association Agreement, which is the most comprehensive agreement that the EU has with any country. It provides the framework for our continuing political association and economic integration. Today we discussed how to make full use of its potential for the benefit of our citizens and businesses.”, declared Donald Tusk, at the end of the summit.

Author: Alexandr Burdian / Photo: European Council