EU-Ukraine Summit: what benefits Ukraine gets from meeting in Brussels

Author : Serhiy Sydorenko

Summit 2016 is not a "successful day" of Ukraine, but it is not a "day of failure" too – political expert
10:02, 25 November 2016

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EU-Ukraine Summit December 2016

November 25, at the final weekly talk shows, the leaders of the Ukrainian diplomacy will persuade the viewers in the success of EU-Ukraine summit. However, only 3-4 weeks ago they voiced the opposite position.

Our sources say that in early November Ukraine even blackmailed Brussels with cancellation of summit in case of non-issuing the issue visa-free.

However, Kyiv refused to blackmail. And the sides have come up with semi-compromising ideas:

- Visa-free regime has not been adopted, although political decision about it is finally approved.

- The EU found a way to give Ukraine the money "during the summit," although basic amount expected to lose Kyiv.

Related: Poroshenko at EU-Ukraine Summit: Top Quotes

- During the summit, the parties would sign the documents, at least one of the promised agreements - on cooperation with Europol – was failed before the meeting.

But despite all this, the EU-Ukraine summit cannot be called a failure. Rather, we should talk about the high expectations.

The long-suffering summit

This year's meeting of leaders of Ukraine and the EU could go down in history as the most problematic in 20 years our relations with Brussels.

Related: Tusk: European Council to extend sanctions against Russia

Even during Yanukovych’s times, the summit has not been delayed so many times in a row. But in the times of Yanukovych European Union refused summits, nowadays, the current date was postponed at the insistence of Kyiv.

Poroshenko truly believed that each next date will resolve the visa-free issue, and he would return from Brussels as the victor.

But the reality was inexorable. Spring plans were broken by the Dutch referendum. In summer and autumn - by Brexit consequences.

Related: EU-Ukraine Summit to discuss Minsk process and Normandy format

Delaying the Summit for the next year would be a demarche from Kyiv, because the annual summit is a requirement of the Agreement. But despite this, Kyiv is seriously considering a cancellation of the summit. Even the new date, November 24, Brussels has announced on its own, while Kyiv insisted that it is only "an option".

Information about mild blackmail by Kyiv is not a joke. European officials in early November surprised receiving from the presidential administration following signals: Summit will take place only if the approval of Brussels will provide visa-free travel to 24 November.

So what about visa-free regime?

Poroshenko’s promises that visa-free regime "to be approved (substitute arbitrary date)", in recent years become a traditional occasion for jokes.

Related: 18th EU-Ukraine summit to take place in Brussels today

Although experts explained: Poroshenko’s promises a priori cannot be met.

Now the presidential administration is actively spreading the idea that Poroshenko was misled by European leaders; in October he promised visa-free, but not adhered words.

The author of these lines in October, a few days after the high-profile statements of Poroshenko, talked with representatives of the EU institutions and received their assurances that  President of Ukraine did not have such promises. The most common assumption might be that was heard something from interlocutors - Ukrainian leader did not understand the system of approval decisions in the EU and "heard" what he wanted to hear.

Related: EU-Ukraine summit: New opportunities and expectations

That is why further demands from Ukraine are at least perceived with amazement.

Meanwhile, resolution of the crisis was found (although we have reason to believe that blackmail AP did not help on the way). As you know, Member States approved the decision that the visa-free regime for Ukraine and Georgia will work together with the 'suspension mechanism'.

And, interestingly, no country voted against the decision, although they say that some members abstained.

On Thursday in Brussels will be determined start date of visa-free regime. Sources in the leadership of the European Commission and the Foreign Ministry refuse to give forecasts as say that it is the "near future."

A key problem is that the Council and the European Parliament cannot share powers. And Ukraine is not able to influence this process.

600 million euros, which Ukraine would not get

It would be wrong to reduce the results of the summit only to issues of visa-free regime: the issue is important, but not the key one.

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

Brussels earlier insisted that among the key reasons for the transfer of the summit is the fact that Ukraine does not have time to fulfill the conditions for macro-financial assistance in the amount of 600 million euros. Like, if they wait until September, Ukraine will get this money, and it will be a good result of the summit.

Macro-financial assistance is a long-term loan that Ukraine receives from European financial institutions brokered by the European Commission. Its interest rates and repayment terms are significantly more favorable for the loan from the IMF. But in order to get them, Kyiv had to follow the conditions

A key problem, which lasts from 2015 is a ban on the export of timber logs, which was introduced contrary to the Association Agreement.

Ukraine has long promised the EU that a law would be changed to put the European and Ukrainian producers on an equal footing; Government has repeatedly acknowledged that the prohibition does not become effective because illegal deforestation as it was and remains a problem; specially created government group discussed probably a dozen different solutions to the conflict.

Related: Minsk agreement, visa-free regime and fight against corruption will be discussed at Ukraine-EU summit

And things are there.

The problem of forest is one of two that interferes get tranche of the EU. The second issue that became public only recently refers to social security of immigrants - namely, suspension of pension payments.

This is not a complete list of the demands, but Ukraine has to fulfill at least these two in order to obtain the tranche of 600 million euros.

Cost of the victory is 120 million

Fortunately, macro-financial support is not the only direction in which the EU helps Ukraine. Therefore Kyiv and Brussels have found a path that will announce the success of the summit.

Before the summit, the EU announced the parties would sign four documents, two of them will provide Ukraine almost 120 million euros - 15 million for anti-corruption and 104 million for reform of the civil service.

Our sources, however, said that contract of 104 million euros, most likely, will not be signed.

Related: Klympush-Tsintsadze, Hahn discuss visa liberalization and preparations for EU-Ukraine Summit

The key positive news: the EU finally to allocate money to increase salaries for civil servants.

The key negative (at least for most state employees) is that  there is no enough money for everyone, but the total increase is not even mentioned.

"This amount comes to the budget, and Ukraine would use these funds for civil service reform program, in particular - on raising wages to a decent level," said a European official European Parliament, aware of the details of the assistance program.

However, not all funds from these 104 million will go for wage. Much of the assistance should be aimed at training and raising the qualification of civil servants.


Related: Moldova to keep Euro integration course, continue to improve relations with Russia

Is it a victory?

The agreement on aid was not the only one that was announced before the summit, but most likely, it would not be actually signed.

Ukrainian diplomats dealing with the issues of the summit, reported problems with signing of a cooperation agreement between Ukraine and Europol - the document did not have time to prepare, so it will be signed later.

You have not specified what caused the breakdown in the signing of this agreement and who is responsible for this - the European Commission or the Ukrainian party (such as the Interior Ministry, where the European area recently cares scandalous deputy Anastasia Deeva). But we can state that the representatives of the Brussels said on Wednesday the signing at the summit is a fait accompli.

Related: Schulz: European Parliament is on Ukraine’s side

Another document - a memorandum on strategic cooperation in the energy sector - will sign on Wednesday.

Summit 2016 will not be "successful day" of Ukraine, but will not be the "day of failure."

Ukraine, where a decision is still adopted by the leader, not by the state system, is accustomed to "sacralization" of summits - there is a perception that the summit is sure to bring great success. The EU approach is fundamentally different. Therefore, the "working summit" will continue.

Related: Ukraine is security factor in Europe, - Turchynov

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