Ukraine - EU Summit (Helsinki, 27 October 2006)
Internal processes in Ukraine as they are perceived and supported in the EU
The holding of free and democratic parliamentary elections in Ukraine in March received a very positive response in the EU as it was perceived as considerable progress in implementing political priorities of the Action Plan. These developments encouraged Brussels to make a number of steps towards Ukraine, in particular, to start preparations to negotiations on a new framework agreement. The corresponding signal of EU support was given during the Ukraine-EU Cooperation Council on September 14 in Brussels.
At the same time EU continues to call for establishment of democratic but also effective system of state in Ukraine, clear coordination of policies of the President and the Government according to the tenets of the Constitution, continued course on political and economic reforms, consistent foreign policy. These issues were raised during the meetings of the EU High Representative for CFSP Javier Solana with President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yanukovych in Kyiv on October 19. EU also draws attention to the areas where reforms are still needed:
Establishment of favourable conditions for small and medium-sized business;
Improvement of investment climate;
Adoption of legislation required to complete the process of WTO accession.
Way to a visa-free travel regime between Ukraine and the European Union
Following the commitments envisaged by the 2001 EU Action Plan on JHA in Ukraine, which became the JLS chapter of the EU-Ukraine Action Plan, EU Council of Ministers officially approved European Commission's draft mandate for holding negotiations with Ukraine concerning a draft Agreement on the facilitation the visa issuance, November 2005.
The conclusion of the Agreement will enable to introduce common regime of the visa issuance to Ukrainian citizens by the Member States' consulate posts within the scope of Schengen aquis. The Agreement envisages waiving of visa requirements for the holders of diplomatic passports; unification of the list of documents necessary for the visa issuance; the issuance of multiple-entry visas (term of validity of up to five years); waiving fees for processing the visa application for a wide range of categories of citizens; general unification and facilitation of the visa issuance processing in the consulate posts of the EU Member States.
One of the fundamental elements of the Agreement is the recognition of a visa free travel regime perspective for the citizens of Ukraine.
Following its conclusion the next target to achieve is efficient implementation of the Agreement on the visa facilitation. This, in particular, implies working out and conclusion of bilateral agreements on visa-free regime for the border areas residents.
The final goal of Ukraine-EU visa dialogue will be introduction of a mutual visa-free travel regime. The instrument to create such prerequisites can be a road map of measures to be taken to approximate Ukrainian legislation to the EU acquis in the areas of migration and border management, passport and visa systems, fighting against transnational organized crime etc., approved jointly with the EU.
Joint development of Ukraine’s border infrastructure
EU allocate considerable funds for financial assistance, aimed at the development of border infrastructure of Ukraine. It is worth mentioning, that in accordance with 2001-2003 years budgets of different programs of EU financial assistance, more than 33 million euro were allocated for the improvement of border infrastructure of Ukrainian border crossing points 'Yagodin' and 'Rava-Russka' on the border with Poland and 'Uzgorod' on the border with Slovak Republic.
In the course of implementation of the EU Action Plan on Justice and Home Affairs in Ukraine and its Scoreboard in the years 2004-2005, due to the EU financial assistance, technical equipment of Sumy border detachment (2,5 million euro) as well as Chernigiv, Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov border guard detachments (8,75 million euro) was substantially improved.
The national indicative TACIS program for the years 2004-2006 foresees granting Ukraine EU financial assistance for construction and modernization of Ukrainian border crossing points ‘Luganka’, ‘Uzgorod’ (second phase) on Ukrainian-Slovak border and ‘Ustilug’ on Ukrainian-Polish border. The matter of use of the EU financial resources for the improvement of infrastructure of the border crossing points with a small volume of traffic ‘Vylok’, ‘Dzvinkove’, ‘Kosyno’ on Ukrainian-Hungarian border and ‘Maly Berezny’ on Ukrainian-Slovak border is being examined.
In reply to the Appeal of Government of Ukraine from 12.08.05 concerning the increase of volumes of EU financing for strengthening of infrastructure and technical equipment of the state border of Ukraine, the European Commission has agreed on 19.09.05 to examine this issue in more detail on the basis of concrete suggestions from the Ukrainian side and with participation of the EC Delegation in Kiev and corresponding Ukrainian authorities.
Later, on the beginning of the year 2006 a special working group, composed of EC Delegation in Kiev collaborators and representatives from relevant Ukrainian ministries and agencies, has been set up. Two joint meetings of the aforementioned working group related to issues of Ukraine’s border infrastructure development have already been held until now.
New framework agreement: the EU membership as a final objective?
According to the Ukraine-EU Action Plan, implementation by Ukraine of the AP political priorities, in particular, holding free and fair parliamentary elections was to open the way towards further substantial development of Ukraine-EU relations, in particular, the launch of negotiations on the new framework agreement to replace Partnership and Cooperation Agreement of 1994.
On September 13, 2006, the European Commission prepared draft directives (mandate) for negotiations with Ukraine on the new framework agreement. Currently the draft directives are debated by the EU member states. The process is expected to be completed by the end of the year so that full-fledged negotiations would begin in early 2007.
Ukraine and EU share the view that the new agreement must become an ambitious and far-reaching document which should bring our relations to a qualitatively new level. The comprehensive free trade area should become a cornerstone of the new treaty. The FTA will envisage not only liberalized trade in goods, but in services and capital movements, as well as removal of non-tariff technical barriers to trade. Such an FTA should promote Ukraine's gradual integration to the EU Internal Market. At the same time, the talks on the FTA can be launched only after Ukraine's accession to the WTO.
Ukraine expects that the new treaty will pave the way for transition from the principles of partnership and cooperation on the basis of PCA to the principles of political association and economic integration of Ukraine to the EU. We shall take every effort to ensure that the new document recognizes Ukraine's EU membership perspective. At the same time, we are aware of the difficult situation in the EU due to the failure of referenda on EU constitution. The Ukrainian side is prepared to engage in an open, constructive and flexible dialogue with the EU on this matter.