The FINANCIAL -- The 20th Summit between the EU and Ukraine took placeon July 9 in Brussels.
The Summit took stock of the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, progress in reforms and the first year of visa-freedom, with the EU's message being one of additional reforms for additional support, according to European Union.
The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, represented the European Union. Ukraine was represented by its President, Petro Poroshenko. The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioner Cecilia Malmström also participated for the European Union.The full remarks of President Juncker at the press conference following the Summit are available online. The European Union and Ukraine have issued a Joint Summit Statement which illustrates the comprehensive nature of the partnership and acts as a building block for enhanced cooperation moving forward.
EU and Ukraine: moving forward together
Ukrainian citizens have consistently demanded reforms for their country that would bring a brighter, more prosperous future for them and for generations to come. The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, has been in force since 1 September 2017 and responds to these demands. Although work must still continue to improve the business climate in Ukraine through curbing corruption and eliminating protectionist measures, the full implementation of the Agreement, together with Ukraine's continued progress in delivering its related reform agenda, has already delivered significant benefits to the Ukrainian people, as well as to EU citizens:
The standards that Ukraine met to achieve short-stay visa-free travel to the EU for its citizens have been maintained, enabling over 500,000 to benefit from this opportunity and bringing the people of Ukraine and the EU closer together;
Ukraine has launched important reforms on health, pensions and education to improve the living standards of its citizens;
Decentralisation has merged and reformed more than 700 local communities in Ukraine, enabling their inhabitants to take advantage of increased budgetary resources and better public services;
Economic reforms have increased the overall trade between the European Union and Ukraine by almost 25% in 2017, creating jobs and increasing prosperity all across our free trade area.
Over €11 billion of the European Union's initial support package of €12.8 billion for Ukraine's reform efforts has now been delivered. The summit was an opportunity for EU Leaders to continue to show their unprecedented support for Ukraine's reform agenda, according to European Union.
Leaders announced the preparation of priority programmes for 2018, worth up to €200 million. These programmes will aim at:
Generating more contacts between Ukrainian and EU citizens;
Helping to modernise the vocational education and training systems;
Improving energy efficiency in residential buildings through the recently established Energy Efficiency Fund;
Supporting wider efforts in the implementation of the Association Agreement.
In addition, through the External Investment Plan the EU intends to strengthen investment-related support, including the Reform Contract for Investment, which triggers funds through concrete reform achievements.
Leaders welcomed the recent decision of the European Parliament and the Council to provide Ukraine with further Macro-Financial Assistance of up to €1 billion to support economic stabilisation and structural reforms. EU Leaders stressed that the new programme will be conditional on continued progress on reforms, in particular in the area of the fight against corruption, which remains a key area for Ukraine.
EU Leaders stressed the importance of stepping up anti-corruption efforts, in particular to complete the transitional phase establishing the High Anti-Corruption Court, notably by allowing the court to deal with the existing cases as well. The independence and effectiveness of anti-corruption institutions needs to be further strengthened, while there is a need to thoroughly investigate and recover the assets of the PrivatBank banking fraud. Establishing an effective verification mechanism of electronic asset declarations and revoking the electronic asset declaration obligation from civic activists was also stressed.
While steps have been taken to fight corruption in Ukraine, other areas of the reform agenda, supported by the European Union, have also seen impressive progress since the last EU-Ukraine Summit in 2017. These include:
Public administration reform;
Governance of State-owned enterprises.
EU leaders reconfirmed the role of Ukraine as a strategic transit country for gas. They agreed on the need for continued reforms in the energy sector, in particular to complete gas and electricity market reform, which would bring long-term benefits. The EU welcomed the adoption by Ukraine of a roadmap on its integration into the European Research Area. In the margins of the Summit, the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a €75 million loan agreement with the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine to support key investments in urban road safety in five Ukrainian cities: Dnipro, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv and Odessa
The European Union reiterated its continued and unwavering support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The European Union condemns and does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation.
Leaders reiterated the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements as the basis for a sustainable and peaceful settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. As a concrete illustration of the EU's support for Ukraine in dealing with the impact of the ongoing conflict, EU leaders announced up to €4 million to strengthen community resilience and reintegration of veterans. The EU also recently announced, in March, €16 million in additional funding to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, taking its leading contribution to €49 million in total.
Leaders also discussed the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions not currently under the control of the government, as well as in Crimea and Sevastopol. The European Union expects the Russian Federation to immediately release all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens in the Crimean peninsula and in Russia.
Finally, Leaders addressed cooperation in the field of Common Security and Defence Policy, where the EU remains committed to civilian security sector reform through the EU Advisory Mission in Ukraine, as well as further cooperation against hybrid threats. EU Leaders also encouraged Ukraine's continued active role to take forward the Eastern Partnership, in particular the implementation of the 20 Deliverables for 2020.