Joint statement following the 22nd EU-Ukraine Summit, 6 October 2020

(Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of a stronger Europe in the World, Co-operators:
Photographer: Genya Savilov

European Union, 2020
Source: EC – Audiovisual Service)

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

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, and Josep Borrell, Vice-President of the European Commission on behalf of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, met in Brussels today for the 22nd EU-Ukraine Summit and issued the following statement.

1. We gathered today to reaffirm our continued commitment to strengthening the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the European Union, on the basis of the Association Agreement and its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. We share common values of democracy, rule of law, respect for international law and human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, as well as gender equality. The EU reiterated its unwavering support and commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

2. The strength of our relations has been evidenced by the unity, solidarity and mutual commitment demonstrated in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU and Ukraine are together fighting the coronavirus and its effects, which are an unprecedented challenge for the healthcare systems and economies of both Member States and Ukraine. We emphasised the importance of strengthening our preparedness and response capacities, of sharing information in a free, transparent and prompt manner, and of improving the international response including through relevant international organisations, such as the WHO, drawing on lessons learned from the current global responses. We expressed readiness to cooperate on making access to the future COVID-19 vaccine a global common good at affordable prices. We recognised that global solidarity, cooperation and effective multilateralism are required more than ever to defeat the virus as well as to ensure a sustainable economic recovery. The EUR 190 million support package and a EUR 1.2 billion macro-financial assistance programme that the EU had mobilised for Ukraine to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impact goes far beyond what any other partner has provided. We noted the appreciation by Ukrainian leadership and citizens for the assistance provided.

3. We reaffirmed our commitment to strengthening the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the European Union, including through continued close cooperation to strengthen the rule of law, advance reforms, foster sustainable economic growth, support the green and digital transitions and increase resilience. We discussed the implementation of the Association Agreement following its entry into force in September 2017, after the December 2016 decision by the EU Heads of State or Government.

4. In this context, we acknowledged the European aspirations of Ukraine and welcomed its European choice, as stated in the Association Agreement. We agreed to exploit fully the potential of the Agreement and stressed the importance of Ukraine continuing to implement its commitments to that end. We welcomed the results already achieved in the implementation of the Association Agreement and the success of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, which has supported the increase of bilateral trade flows by about 65% following its application since January 2016, with the EU now Ukraine’s largest trading partner.

5. We reaffirmed the emphasis on maintaining Ukraine’s macro-economic stability, keeping the IMF commitments on track and implementing all medium-term structural policies agreed within the EU macrofinancial assistance programme, as well as a strong and independent National Bank of Ukraine.

6. We recognised the substantial progress made by Ukraine in its reform process and agreed on the need to further accelerate these efforts. We welcomed the launch of the land reform, the adoption of the banking resolution law and progress made with regard to decentralisation. We welcomed the launch of the work of the High Anti-Corruption Court. We agreed on the importance of accelerating and reinforcing reform efforts, in particular on the judiciary (including reforming the High Council of Justice and the independent recruitment of judges with integrity) and in the fight against corruption, ensuring strong and independent anti-corruption institutions. We welcomed the renewed commitment of Ukraine to fight the influence of vested interests (“de-oligarchisation”). In this regard, we underlined the need to further strengthen media pluralism in Ukraine.

7. The EU reaffirmed its continued substantial support for Ukraine, and its link to the effective implementation of reforms and policy measures. Building on successful Ukrainian reforms and international support since the Revolution of Dignity, the EU announced new programmes to support agriculture, local micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) notably through local currency lending, civil society, transport, infrastructure, environment and climate action, as well as specific support for the east of Ukraine. The EU also continues to support Ukraine on decentralisation and strengthening local self-governance, and on enhancing the fight against corruption. We welcomed the signature of the Eastern Neighbourhood Instrument financial agreements on the East, Civil Society and Climate.

8. The EU will continue to support Ukraine in countering hybrid threats and tackling disinformation, including through strengthening of independent media, media literacy strategic communications, in order to strengthen Ukraine’s resilience. We underlined the important role played by civil society, youth and independent media in all areas of public and political life, also in the context of disinformation campaigns against the EU and Ukraine, including by Russia. The EU and Ukraine agreed to launch a cyber-dialogue. We also noted the importance of enhancing cooperation in the area of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and alignment with CFSP, welcoming in this regard Ukraine’s participation in EUFOR Althea. Furthermore, we acknowledged the important roles played by the European Commission Support Group for Ukraine (SGUA) the EU Advisory Mission for civilian security sector reform (EUAM), including through its regional presence across Ukraine and the new Field Office in Mariupol.

9. We welcomed the continued successful implementation of the visa-free regime for the citizens of Ukraine. We underlined the importance of continuing to fulfil the visa liberalisation benchmarks and accelerating related reform efforts. We looked forward to the resumption of the normal travel opportunities for our citizens, once epidemiological conditions allow.

10. We looked forward to further enhancing economic integration and regulatory approximation within the framework of the Association Agreement in the following fields:

  • On digital, we took note of the on-site assessment of the implementation of Ukraine’s commitments in the AA/DCFTA. We also discussed the EU’s engagement in further supporting Ukraine and its institutions in approximation with and gradual implementation of the EU Digital Single Market acquis and institutional capacities, to fully benefit from the Association Agreement. We agreed to prepare by the end of 2020 a joint working plan for co-operation between EU and Ukraine on electronic trust services with a view to a possible agreement which must be based on approximation to the EU legislation and standards.
  • We welcomed progress on the update of the Annexes on telecommunication, environment, climate and financial cooperation of the Association Agreement. Welcoming Ukraine’s ambition to approximate its policies and legislation with the European Green Deal, we stressed the importance of progress in Ukraine’s commitments in the areas of climate change, environment, marine ecosystem, education, energy, transport and agriculture, building on existing established sectoral dialogues, and agreed on a focused dialogue on the necessary steps in these areas.
  • We acknowledged the importance of fully complying with DCFTA commitments, notably in the areas of intellectual property rights, public procurement, trade defence, and sanitary and phytosanitary standards with a view to building an open and predictable business and investment climate in Ukraine. We agreed to further discuss and review the ways to improve DCFTA implementation in order to further develop and facilitate bilateral trade.
  • We welcomed the launch of the pre-assessment on Ukraine’s preparedness on an Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products.
  • The EU also welcomed Ukraine’s willingness to associate to the incoming EU’s Research and Innovation Framework Programme Horizon Europe and EU4Health Programme, which will be a significant enabler for green and digital post-COVID recovery.
  • We recalled the importance and reaffirmed our commitment to concluding the Common Aviation Area Agreement at the earliest possible date.
  • We reaffirmed Ukraine’s role as a strategic transit country for gas and welcomed the agreement on gas transit to the EU after 2019. We underlined the importance of pursuing the modernization of the Ukrainian national gas transmission system and further cooperation on strengthening European energy security. We stressed the importance of Ukraine’s cooperation with the EU, with a view to its integration with the EU energy market based on effective implementation of the updated Annex XXVII of the Association Agreement as well as coordination of further steps for the integration of gas and electricity markets.
  • We agreed to improve connectivity between Ukraine, the EU and other countries of the Eastern Partnership with a view to facilitating trade, further developing safe and sustainable transport links and supporting people-to-people contacts.
  • We welcomed the participation of Ukraine in EU programmes and underlined the importance of Erasmus+ for education, training, youth and sport and Creative Europe for culture. We looked forward to intensifying the relevant cooperation in the framework of current and future programmes.

11. We agreed to proceed in 2021 with the comprehensive review of the achievement of the Agreement’s objectives, as the Agreement stipulates.

12. We reiterated our strong condemnation of the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. We continue to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia, the militarisation of the peninsula, the severe deterioration of the human rights situation there as well as restrictions of the freedom of movement for Ukrainian citizens to and from the Crimean Peninsula. We condemned the voting procedures on constitutional amendments of the Russian Federation concluded on 1 July 2020 that took place in the Crimean Peninsula, as well as the election of the so-called “governor of Sevastopol” on 13 September 2020, in violation of international law. We called on Russia to allow unhindered access of international organisations and human rights actors to the areas currently not under the control of Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula, and to respect international humanitarian law. We called for the immediate release of all illegally detained and imprisoned Ukrainian citizens in the Crimean Peninsula and in Russia, including Crimean Tatar activists. We continue to call on Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage to and from the Sea of Azov, in accordance with international law. We remain fully committed to implementing and keeping our respective non-recognition policies updated, including through restrictive measures and cooperation in international fora. In this context, we welcomed the diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

13. We reaffirmed our full support to the endeavours of the Normandy format, the OSCE, the Trilateral Contact Group and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. We welcomed the renewed engagement by the parties at the Normandy Summit in Paris last December, and stressed the importance of implementing the measures agreed on that occasion in view of the full implementation of the Minsk agreements by all sides, underlining Russia’s responsibility in this regard. We praised the constructive approach of Ukraine in the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group and called on Russia to reciprocate. The comprehensive and unlimited ceasefire is an achievement that should be preserved. We called on Russia to fully assume its responsibility in this regard and to use its considerable influence over the armed formations it backs to meet the Minsk commitments in full and to ensure free and unhindered access of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to the non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine, including the areas along the Ukrainian-Russian State border, in accordance with its mandate. We again called on Russia to immediately stop fuelling the conflict by providing financial and military support to the armed formations it backs, and we remain deeply concerned about the presence of Russian military equipment and personnel in the non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine. We reiterated our condemnation of the Russian continuing measures entitling Ukrainian citizens of the areas currently not under the control of the Government to apply for Russian citizenship in a simplified manner, in contradiction to the Minsk agreements. The EU recently renewed its economic sanctions on Russia, whose duration remains clearly linked to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.

14. We agreed to continue cooperating to address the socio-economic and humanitarian consequences of the conflict, highlighting the necessity to ensure the supply of water, electricity and gas across the contact line, to facilitate the movement of people and goods, and to ensure that the people living in areas not under Government’s control fully benefit from their rights as citizens of Ukraine, in full respect of international humanitarian law. In the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more essential that humanitarian aid continues to be delivered and that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and the International Committee of the Red Cross have unimpeded access to the non-government controlled areas. We underlined the importance of pursuing demining activities also in new areas to be agreed. We also agreed on the need for Ukraine to establish a national mine action centre in order to effectively address the contamination by mines and unexploded ordnances in the conflict affected region. The EU stands ready to further support Ukraine’s inclusive approach towards its citizens in the affected areas and to play a leading role in reconstruction efforts of the country, including in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, once the Minsk agreements have been implemented.

15. We underlined our support to all efforts to establish the truth, justice and accountability for the 298 victims and the next of kin and called on the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility and to cooperate fully with all efforts to establish accountability on the downing of flight MH17.

16. We welcomed the Eastern Partnership Leaders’ video tele-conference meeting of 18 June 2020. Taking into account the results and orientations from this meeting and building on the March 2020 Joint Communication, we reaffirmed the strategic importance of the partnership, and looked forward to the 6th Eastern Partnership Summit in 2021, which is expected to endorse long-term policy objectives and the next generation of post-2020 deliverables on the basis of these objectives and input of Member States and partner countries.

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