The Brief: Ukraine needs more than Normandy

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

The Normandy group of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine is failing to secure any kind of lasting ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. That’s why the format needs to be extended to include the entire EU.

Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, described the last few days of fighting as the bloodiest of 2017. That grim appraisal came during a four-way phone call with Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin.

That two-hour-long exchange yielded nothing of note and not even Macron, brimming with confidence after high level summits at the G7, G20 and NATO, could use his first Normandy group experience to shake things up.

We’re at a stage where the Normandy-brokered Minsk agreements are still far from being implemented, fighting is still widespread and the rebels are even declaring their own state.

Macron and Merkel may have denounced ‘Malorossiya’ and agreed to move forward finally on the Minsk implementation roadmap, but these are just grand words for now and people are still dying in Donbass and other parts of the region.

And besides, it’s 2017. A format based around a just a quartet in our multilateral world, coupled with the scale and magnitude of the Ukraine problem, belongs to the last millennium.

The current setup smacks a little too much of the Treaty of Versailles for this day and age.

That’s why the EU has to be more involved in the process, especially in the absence of a United States strongly fighting Ukraine’s corner.

Trump called Ukraine’s involvement in the US election into question earlier, seemingly without any evidence to back it up

And the EU is quickly getting a reputation as an effective peace builder. In less than a decade, the European External Action Service and the newly-empowered office of EU High Representative have chalked up some impressive wins.

They range from the Iran nuclear deal, for which Federica Mogherini recently won the Hessian Peace Prize, to involvement in Colombia’s peace agreement and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

When receiving her prize last week, Mogherini rightly said that the strongest peace is built through multilateralism. That is why the Normandy format has to be extended to include the whole Union or it simply will not achieve its objectives.

It took Brussels years to push the Ukraine association agreement through but earlier this month it was formally approved and it will take effect on 1 September.

Since the EU is finally welcoming West-leaning Ukraine into the fold, it has to step up and help secure lasting peace in its neighbourhood. It has the chops to do so.

Click here to follow our coverage of the Ukraine crisis.

The Roundup

Donald Trump reliably informed Twitter that a trade deal with the UK is in the pipeline. The Tweeter-in-Chief also accused the EU of being “very protectionist with the US” and urged Brussels to “STOP!”.

But chlorine chicken refuses to die and the complexity of transatlantic trade is perfectly summed up by these rules about eggs.

Washington is also readying anti-dumping measures for Spanish olives. EU farmers have warned the Commission that this is a “serious” matter. South American trade bloc Mercosur is firmly behind the idea of finalising a trade deal with Brussels by the end of 2017.

Keep following our Special Report on the EU’s quality schemes throughout the week.

Operation Sophia, the EU’s anti-smugging naval effort in the Med, has been extended until the end of next year.

Hungary’s Viktor Orbán called Commission VP Frans Timmermans an “inquisitor” and vowed to defend Poland. The College of Commissioners is expected to deliver its Article 7 verdict tomorrow.

The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group met with Commission negotiator Michel Barnier and voiced their disappointment about the results of the negotiations so far in this statement.

The eurozone seems to be in rude health at the moment but the IMF has warned against complacency as high debt and a fragile banking sector persist.

Rome’s fierce drought continues and even the Vatican has had to shut off its fountains for the first time. Time for some divine intervention…

Look out for…

Commissioners Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn hosted a High-Level Political Dialogue with Turkey today. A press conference started at 4:30pm, which you can rewatch here.

Views are the author’s.

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