Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

tel. +38 (044) 287 52 58

What has the October EU-Ukraine summit delivered?


On October 12, the Twenty-third Ukraine-European Union Summit took place in Kyiv. The parties summarized the results of the current cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union, as well as identified areas for further cooperation, which were set out in a joint statement adopted following the summit. The published document can be divided into the following parts:

1. Political and security cooperation

2. Association Agreement

3. Reforming in Ukraine

4. Economic cooperation and financial assistance

5. Energy

1. The Parties agreed to approve ambitious long-term goals and set new priorities for the post-2020 period at the Sixth Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in 2021. Thus, the idea of need of ??changing the EU approach to cooperation with the Associated Trio: Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, was heard in Brussels. The paragraph outlining the position on cooperation in the field of the Common Security and Defense Policy (CFSP) in general repeats the position that was enshrined as a results of the 22nd EU-Ukraine Summit. The only change was the confirmation of the EU's intention to explore the possibility of further supporting Ukraine's resilience, in particular in the field of professional military education. This includes the intention to establish an EU military and advisory training mission (EUATM) in Ukraine, which testifies to the evolution of cooperation in the military dimension between Ukraine and the European Union. [1]

The European Union supported Ukraine against the background of ongoing Russian aggression, condemned the violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, the holding of State Duma elections in the occupied territories, human rights violations in these territories, and obstruction of the OSCE mission as well as free navigation in the Azov and Black Seas. The EU remains «fully committed to implementing and keeping our respective non-recognition policies updated, including through restrictive measures». To this end, regular consultations on these policies and cooperation, including in international fora, will be continued. In this context, the document mentions the newly created Crimean Platform. Although the document contains rather critical provisions regarding the Russian Federation, new sanctions against Russia, or specific proposals for their imposition are not defined in the document.

Another issue that worries Ukrainian society is the possible abolition of the visa-free regime. The continued operation of the visa-free regime, which has been the subject of much speculation, has been confirmed. The parties stressed the importance of further fulfilment of visa liberalization benchmarks and acceleration of related reforms. Also, Ukraine and the European Union have concluded a Common Aviation Area Agreement. In accordance with the provisions of the Agreement, the parties will establish a Common Aviation Area between Ukraine and the EU on the basis of equal rules of aviation safety, air traffic management, social rights of employees, electronic reservation systems, environmental and consumer protection.

2. The European Union has recognized its joint commitment to promote the principles enshrined in the Association Agreement. The need to reform the agreement, which has become somewhat outdated for 10 years and needs to be adapted, was reaffirmed. The main victory for Ukraine in the context of the Association Agreement renewal was the agreement to negotiate a change in customs rates. For a long time, the European Union has denied this need, urging that tariffs or duty-free quotas remain on those product lines that are sensitive to European producers. However, Ukraine, for its part, is committed to solving the problem of roundwood by replacing a simple export ban (without a ban on the Carpathians logging) with more efficient mechanisms.[1]

3. The EU welcomed and acknowledged Ukraine's progress in reform. Among these initiatives, the joint statement emphasized the importance of successful judicial reform. The need to resume the work of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges of Ukraine and implement the Constitutional Court reform was stressed. The resumption of criminal liability for false declaration of property was also noted, thus expressing support for the measures taken by Volodymyr Zelenskyy after the constitutional crisis. In addition, the EU supported Volodymyr Zelenskyy's anti-oligarchic initiatives, however, in a rather restrained manner, emphasizing that it welcomed the legally sound actions and implementation of the relevant legislation, and called on Ukraine to take further steps in this direction.

4. The intention to offer Ukraine in 2021 bilateral financial assistance under the Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) to support key reforms was fixed. At the same time, the EU welcomed the Economic and Investment Plan for the Eastern Partnership and its flagship initiatives for Ukraine, which will mobilize up to EUR 6.47 billion in public and private investments to boost economic development and support post-pandemic recovery and agreed on its rapid implementation. The document also mentions the fulfillment of the conditions of the EU's emergency Macro-Financial Assistance Program for Ukraine and the allocation of the second tranche in the amount of 600 million euros. These funds were allocated despite the lack of active cooperation between Ukraine and the IMF. In the humanitarian dimension, the EU has reaffirmed support for conflict-affected populations in eastern Ukraine in the amount of € 25.4 million in 2021.

5. The sector of a paper related to the energy sphere is quite large. The European Union reaffirmed Ukraine's role as a strategic country for gas transit and declared its support for continuing gas transit through Ukraine after 2024. In the context of existing and future gas transmission systems on the territory of Ukraine and the EU, the joint obligations on full application of the current EU legislation and the obligations under the Association Agreement are emphasized. The Parties also agreed to make maximum use of each other's existing energy networks and capacities, as well as to consult and coordinate in relevant situations on infrastructure development that could harm the interests of both Parties. It is important that the European Union recognized its responsibility in the process of rapprochement between Ukraine and the EU, as previously only Ukraine’s commitments were emphasized. At the same time, the intention of closer coordination of the common energy policy testifies to the progress in Ukraine's integration into the European Union. The parties also agreed to establish a high-level working group to accelerate reforms of the electricity and gas markets in Ukraine and agreed to coordinate further steps towards the integration of the gas and electricity markets. The EU reaffirmed its full support for the synchronization of Ukraine's integrated energy system with the European ENTSO-E network once all the necessary technical and market preconditions have been met.

The 23rd EU-Ukraine Summit summed up the general achievements of cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union. Promising areas of cooperation aimed at further integration of Ukraine into the European economic, energy and military-political space were identified. A number of items contained in the joint agreement based on the results of the summit contain positive decisions for Ukraine. Among those achievements, it is worth noting, firstly, the EU's recognition of a common obligation to promote the joint principles enshrined in the Association Agreement, since previously it was noted only on Ukraine's obligations. Second, the agreement to revise customs rates for Ukrainian business creates new opportunities for the export of domestic goods. Third, it is worth noting the positive dynamics in the evolution of the approach to EU interaction with the countries of the Associated Trio. Fourth, the EU is gradually changing its position on security cooperation with Ukraine, as evidenced by the intention to open in Ukraine an EU military and advisory training mission (EUATM). The history of European integration processes shows that the transformation of the organization is gradual, in accordance with the interests of member countries. Therefore, the statements of the Ukrainian leadership to accelerate country's accession will not affect the EU's position. The best means of successful European integration is ensuring gradual reformation of Ukraine, and the most effective use of the instruments that the European Union provides, in accordance with Ukrainian national interests.