Since the appointment of Olha Stefanishyna to the post of Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, the main activities of her office have been aimed at renewing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. It is expected that during the Ukraine-EU Summit in October, the parties will agree on a political declaration that will start the process of providing amendments to the document. Proposals for Brussels are currently being worked on in Kyiv. According to Prime Minister Denys Shmygal, the Ukrainian side will present its vision of the amendments to the Agreement at a meeting of the Association Council in December this year: ‘The government aims to take into account the interests of Ukrainian business, which seeks to make greater use of the opportunities of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the EU».
The start of negotiations on the amendments to the Association Agreement is tentatively scheduled for January 2021. Currently, 42% of Ukraine's trade turnover is accounted for by the European Union, but the negative balance of trade with the EU in 2019 increased to - 4.6 billion. dollars USA. It is logical that Ukraine seeks to increase the share of its products in European markets. Currently, Ukrainian exporters are rapidly running out quotas with zero duty on some goods. According to the Cabinet of Ministers, as of August 2020, 8 tariff quotas for honey, barley groats and flour, processed tomatoes, processed starch, grape and apple juices, corn, malt, and starch products, sugar have been fully used. Therefore, one of the priorities of the Ukrainian side in the process of updating the Agreement is to increase duty-free access to EU markets. In addition, Kyiv aims to sign the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA), in other words, the "industrial visa-free regime". After concluding the ACAA, Ukrainian non-food producers will not need to be certified in the European Union for sales on its territory. Small and medium-sized businesses would benefit greatly from "industrial visa-free travel", as certification is not cheap. It is important that in this context we are talking about goods with higher added value compared to agricultural products. However, in order to obtain an "industrial visa-free regime", Ukraine must meet a number of requirements, and much work has already been done. According to Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olga Stefanishina, by October Kyiv is waiting for the results of the EU mission’s assessment of Ukrainian legislation on compliance with the conditions required for signing the ACCA.
Another priority is changes to Section III "Justice, Freedom and Security". In this context, it is a question of creating a new appendix, which would specify the priorities of law enforcement cooperation and indicators of reforms in the areas of justice and the fight against corruption. The fact is that currently the Agreement does not contain mechanisms and methods for assessing progress in this area. In general, the EU uses the EU Justice Scoreboard and the EU Anti-Corruption Report to assess relevant transformations in the Member States. Kyiv is interested in using the mentioned tools in Ukraine. Potentially, this could promote political dialogue between the two sides, as confirmation of the positive dynamics would allow to promote dialogue on further European integration.
It is not possible to renew the Association Agreement in one day, so the process can be lengthy. Ukraine is currently making progress in updating Energy Annex 27, which has introduced a mechanism for consulting with the EU on the compatibility of legislative initiatives with EU law. In addition, Ukraine has ambitions to become a member of the European Green Deal. The renewal of the Association Agreement requires the diligent work of both parties. It is important that domestic political games do not become an obstacle. Thus, Ukrainian deputies must abandon the bill on the localization of public procurement, which was voted in July this year. Otherwise, there will be a violation of the Association Agreement by the Ukrainian party, which will inevitably weaken the position of our negotiators. Therefore, in this context, not only the dialogue with the EU will be important, but also the desire of all branches of government to move in the direction of European integration.