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Monday, June 21, 2021

“Cosmetic changes”: EU will revise the agreement with Ukraine

Europe expressed its readiness to revise the Association Agreement with Ukraine, for which Kiev has repeatedly called on the European Union. Trade regulations are also expected to be revised. It is also planned to discuss assistance to Ukraine from the European side in the acquisition of a vaccine against coronavirus. But experts believe that the EU will not make serious concessions.

The head of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in a letter to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced a comprehensive revision of the Association Agreement with the European Union, which will begin in 2021.

“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy received a letter from President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen following the 22nd Ukraine-EU summit, which took place on October 6, 2020 in Brussels. The heads of the EU institutions note that a comprehensive revision of the association agreement will begin this year,” the Zelensky office said on the website.

According to the text of the message, European institutions’ heads intend this year to deepen sectoral cooperation with Kiev in the digital and environmental spheres.

In addition, as noted in the office of Zelensky, preparations are currently underway to sign an agreement on a joint aviation space in the near future. Also, the work of the previous assessment mission of the European Union was launched in the context of the future agreement on the assessment of conformity and acceptability of industrial products, the text clarified.

In addition, the letter says that Ukraine can count on solidarity from the European side in obtaining a vaccine against coronavirus.

Ukraine last year received € 190 million for the purchase of medical equipment. The first tranche of macro-financial assistance in the amount of € 600 million was also received. The EU institutions expressed their readiness to cooperate with Ukraine in meeting the criteria for the provision of the second tranche, the message says.

The Association Agreement is the basic document between the European Union and a non-member state, based on which cooperation in the fields of politics, trade, culture and the strengthening of security is built.

This agreement was signed with Ukraine in 2014. It came into force two years later.

It regulates the gradual economic and political rapprochement between Ukraine and the European Union. The first sections are devoted to general principles, political dialogue, reforms, foreign policy and security convergence, and justice. The key sections are about trade and economic cooperation, which involve creating a free trade zone, which Russia opposed back in 2013.

This is not the first time that the intention to revise this agreement has been discussed. In mid-September last year, the Ukrainian Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture, Igor Petrashko, announced Kiev’s intention to start relevant negotiations in 2021. Further deepening not only trade liberalization, but also the philosophy of the economic part of the agreement as a whole, was named as a top priority task for Kiev.

The need to revise the terms of the Association Agreement with the EU in an interview with Deutsche Welle in May was also announced by the former Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Vadym Prystaiko . “We have passed the stage of the first contacts. Now most of the quotas (for the supply of Ukrainian goods to the European Union – Gazeta.Ru) that have been established do not suit us. We must reconsider the conditions, our producers are waiting for this,” the politician noted then.

According to the expert of the International Institute for Humanitarian and Political Research Volodymyr Bruter , Ukraine will not receive any significant advantages from the revision of the agreement, because the EU is not ready to sacrifice anything significant.

According to the specialist, in this case there may be cosmetic concessions.

The expert explained to Gazeta.Ru that the items on trade are likely to be revised. He admitted that quotas for some positions could be expanded.

“Now Ukraine exports to the EU mainly wheat, sunflower oil, iron ore and metal. It is possible that there will be relief in the export of dairy products, chicken meat and chicken eggs, which Ukraine has been striving for for a long time, “Vladimir Bruter suggested.

In his opinion, the result may be a “smoothing” of the understanding of the possibility of Ukraine to join the European Union.

In turn , Vladimir Zharikhin, deputy director of the Institute of CIS Countries, drew attention to the fact that plans to revise the agreement were announced in general terms, without specifics, which causes caution.

“The EU is not going to pull Ukraine up to its economic level, but rather plans to use it. And so it turns out: customs duties were canceled, but quotas were introduced. For example, Ukraine can now send to Europe about 5% of the sugar that it sent before the agreement – this is where the quota ends. Will this be revised? They say they will revise the economic sphere, but it is not clear how,” the expert told Gazeta.Ru.

He noted the lack of specifics in the issue of providing the vaccine: only the readiness of the EU to facilitate the receipt of drugs by Ukraine is reported.

“But we need to get vaccinated now, and we are talking about the future. That is, when the whole of Europe has been vaccinated, maybe something will remain and it will be given to Ukraine,” explained Vladimir Zharikhin.

The specialist also expressed the opinion that the EU does not concede anything and politically does not go to the meeting. The expert drew attention to the wording on the continuation of cooperation with Ukraine in the field of improving the judicial system and combating corruption.

“That is, the possibility of refusal to Ukraine is being laid on the grounds that it has a bad situation with corruption or in the judicial system. And in Ukraine, in the foreseeable future, it will not be good with both,” he stressed.

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