EU-Ukraine Summit: moving forward together in solidarity

Ukraine

(John-Mark Smith, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Yesterday, at the 21st EU-Ukraine Summit in Kyiv, the European Union and Ukraine reaffirmed their strong partnership and shared commitment to a comprehensive reform agenda. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk represented the European Union alongside the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, also participated.

President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The European Union’s partnership with Ukraine is one of mutual solidarity and friendship. It is also one that is flourishing: we have achieved more progress together in the last five years than we did in the two decades before. Ukraine has taken up ambitious reform commitments. The EU, in turn, has provided Ukraine with unprecedented support, from financial and expert support, to autonomous trade measures, and almost 3 million visa-free visits to the EU for Ukrainian citizens to date. This, alongside continued unity on sanctions, shows the EU’s commitment to Ukraine – one that remains unwavering.

Read the full remarks of President Juncker at the joint press conference here.

The European Union and Ukraine agreed on a Joint Statement, demonstrating the richness of the bilateral agenda.

The EU provides additional €119 million for accountable and efficient governance in Ukraine and to step up its support to the Sea of Azov region

The Summit recognised the substantial progress made by Ukraine in its reform process, and agreed on the importance of accelerating these efforts, in particular in the fight against corruption. The EU has also showed clear solidarity with the country facing continuous challenges in the East including in the Sea of Azov region.

In the margins of the Summit, the Commission adopted new measures to support decentralisation, fight against corruption, empowerment of civil society and accountable and efficient governance in Ukraine as well as to alleviate the humanitarian situation and promoting economic opportunities for the people living in the Sea of Azov region.

The package will include a €40 million programme on decentralisation, a €15 million programme to fight corruption, a €10 million programme to support civil society and a €44 million programme for the facilitation of key reforms and the implementation of the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. The support to anti-corruption efforts and decentralisation reforms are additional contributions to already successfully ongoing EU flagship programmes U-LEAD with Europe and EU Anti-Corruption Initiative (EUACI).

Read the full press release: EU-Ukraine Summit: EU provides additional support to decentralisation, fight against corruption, empowerment of civil society and accountable and efficient governance in Ukraine.

The Commission also allocated additional measures worth €10 million to support local economic diversification and small businesses, local civil society and citizens’ involvement in decision-making, improvement of community security and public safety in the Sea of Azov region. This further support will help mitigate the impact of Russia’s destabilising actions in the Sea of Azov on the local economy and communities.

The EU has been supporting projects aimed at mine risk mitigation as well as for psycho-social support. Additional support has been made available for local currency loans, destined to small and micro companies creating investment possibilities for local entrepreneurs.  The new measures also include an increased EU presence through a permanent programme office in Mariupol, which notably strengthens the support to decentralisation and anti-corruption processes in the region.

Read the full press release: The EU is stepping-up its support to the Sea of Azov region.

Support measures in response to the conflict

The European Union reaffirmed its unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU continues to implement its non-recognition policy for the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, including through restrictive measures. The European Union expects Russia to release without any further delay the 24 Ukrainian servicemen, captured in November 2018, and their vessels, as well as all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens in the Crimean peninsula and in Russia.

The EU is also stepping up humanitarian funding to help those most in need in Ukraine with an additional €17.7 million. The assistance includes essential support such as healthcare, shelter repairs, water, cash transfers and Education in Emergencies projects. All EU humanitarian aid is impartial and independent, and will be provided along the line of conflict and in the non-government controlled areas. This brings the total EU humanitarian support for Ukraine to €133.8 million.

Macro-Financial Assistance to Ukraine

At the Summit, both parties stressed the importance for Ukraine to maintain macro-economic stability and keeping the International Monetary Fund programme on track. Under the current – fourth – Macro-Financial Assistance programme, the European Commission disbursed €500 million to Ukraine in December 2018. With this disbursement, the total Macro-Financial Assistance extended to Ukraine by the EU since 2014 has reached €3.3 billion – the largest amount of such assistance directed at any non-EU country. The EU stands ready to disburse the second tranche (€500 million) of the current Macro-Financial Assistance programme once the country has implemented the agreed reform measures linked to this tranche.

Sectorial cooperation

The Summit welcomed the adoption of the updated energy annex of the Association Agreement. The annex lists parts of the EU acquis which Ukraine commits to approximating with. This will in turn increase gradual market integration and enhance energy security.

In light of Ukraine’s commitment under the telecom annex of the Association Agreement, the European Commission will be sending a team to assess Ukraine’s legislative and institutional capacity.

The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area has supported the increase of bilateral trade by 49% since the start of its application in January 2016. In addition to the measures foreseen in the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area of the Association Agreement, the Autonomous Trade Measures for Ukraine in place since October 2017 for several Ukrainian industrial goods and agricultural products have helped to improve access for Ukrainian exporters to the EU market.

In line with the increased participation of Ukraine in EU programmes, Ukraine is now one of the largest beneficiaries of the Erasmus+ programme in the Eastern Partnership region.

The Summit participants also touched upon on the need to counter disproportionate influence of vested domestic interests in the media sector. The EU highlighted the important role that the Public Service Broadcasting plays in providing independent media content and underlined the importance of providing it with sufficient resources.

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