EU-Ukraine summit: New opportunities and expectations

Author : News Agency

Source : 112 Ukraine

November 24, Donald Tusk hosts the 18th EU-Ukraine summit, which will be an occasion to welcome recent steps towards visa-free travel
08:19, 24 November 2016

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Ukraine-EU summit in Brussels to be launched on November 24, at 13:00 (Kyiv time), in the form of a working dinner. Before the summit, a separate meeting of European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, European Parliament Martin Schulz, and President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko to be held.

At 14:40 they would start a joint press conference, therefore, the very summit will take more than half an hour.

Related: Memorandum on energy sector cooperation to be signed at EU-Ukraine summit

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, vice-president of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič and Valdis Dombrovskis and EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, Cecilia Malmström and Dimitris Avramopulos would also participate in the plenary working lunch.

Related: Mogherini invites EU Foreign Ministers to discuss relations with US after elections

The summit will be an opportunity to confirm the strong partnership between the EU and Ukraine. It is expected that leaders will celebrate the importance of political and economic reforms as well as the need to continue reforms already implemented earlier. During the negotiations could be agreed to allocate € 15 million to support programs to combat corruption, as well as 140 million euros for public administration reform; a new program to support the rule of law, mainly through the courts and police reform. The EU said that the parties would also discuss signing an agreement on the exchange of data between Ukraine and Europol.

Related: Cabinet of Ministers approves draft agreement on EU aid to fight corruption

Related: European Parliament urges EU members to create European Defense Union

An important aspect is the energy sector, in this vein, the EU will assess the prospects for a new winter gas package.

This summit will be the first after the beginning of provisional application of a deep and comprehensive free trade area (FTA) in January 2016. EU leaders and the president of Ukraine are likely to discuss the economic impact of the agreement. Recently Poroshenko has said that the EU's share in the Ukrainian foreign trade is 41% and Ukraine began to compensate for the loss of the market of Russia.

The summit will certainly confirm EU support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. EU leaders will also talk about the implementation of the Minsk agreements, humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine and prospects of socio-economic integration of IDPs, the deterioration of the human rights situation on the uncontrolled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and in Crimea.

Related: Ukraine's European dream: Zoom in and zoom out

Plans to extend EU sanctions against Russia have been repeatedly reported. Probably the sanctions period which expires on 31 January 2017, will continue for another six months, and this would be officially announced in December.

The summit will also announce the increase practical support to the Special OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine.

But the main expectation of the summit was a decision on visa-free. In late October, the President said that Ukraine will receive a visa-free regime until 24 November.

"I am convinced that the documents on granting Ukraine visa-free regime will be fully signed and ratified by parliament. I can even tell the date - November 24," said the President.

Related: Poroshenko: EU's share in Ukrainian foreign trade amounts to 41%

But in practice it turned out that the procedure cannot be achieved so quickly. As you know, November 17, ambassadors of EU countries approved the start of discussing visa liberalization for Ukraine. At the same time, it was agreed that the entry into force of visa liberalization should take place simultaneously with the entry into force of the new mechanism for the abolition of the same visa-free regime. The latter has not yet been approved, and therefore nothing new on November 24 visa-free EU cannot say. Presidential Administration confirm this. Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Kostyantyn Yeliseyev said that the exact date of receipt of visa-free just will not be called tomorrow. He explains that the delay in granting visa-free regime was due to migration crisis in Europe, and now everything is interconnected.

The date of approving the suspension of visa-free mechanism is not known yet. Meanwhile, media publish different dates, some write that the European Parliament can vote for visa-free during plenary session in December, others - that decision is expected to be taken before the end of January.

Related: Closed sky: why Ukraine has not joined European Common Aviation Area?

EU summit announcement clearly says that "leaders will welcome the recent steps towards visa liberalization for Ukraine," and refers to the concrete decision for  November17.

In Brussels, they will discuss another very important point - speed up the ratification of the Association Agreement with the Netherlands. They situation is very difficult because the government of Ukraine and the Netherlands for a long time have been discussing this issue, but concrete decisions yet.

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In late October, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte said the Netherlands government decided to ratify the document, but on one condition - adding clarifying declaration, which must be stated that the agreement will be the first step towards Ukraine's membership in the European Union and several other items. It was reported that the document might be agreed on the EU summit in December 2016.

Poroshenko thus predicts that there will be a mutually acceptable compromise between Ukraine, the EU, and the Netherlands and ratification of the Association Agreement and free trade zone would be completed.


Related: Ukraine is security factor in Europe, - Turchynov


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