Countdown to the Ukraine–EU Summit

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The 16th Ukraine–EU Summit on 25 February will launch a final countdown before the signing of a Ukraine–EU Association Agreement in Vilnius this November, writes Kostiantyn Yelisieiev.

Kostiantyn Yelisieiev is ambassador and Head of Mission of Ukraine to the EU.

"My expectations of the 16th Ukraine–EU Summit on 25 February are quite clear and reasonably ambitious. The Summit will launch a final countdown before the signing of a Ukraine–EU Association Agreement in Vilnius this November. At the same time, any decisions at the Summit should not lull us into a false sense of security.

Yes, recently Ukraine and the EU have been able to restore dynamism of political contacts. But the Summit’s role now is to stimulate further decisive activity.

In order to sign the Agreement more than the current constructive approach of High Representative Ashton and Commissioner Fule is necessary – we need support from all 27 EU Member States and the consent of the European Parliament. In other words, to seal the deal with the EU, we need to create a conducive climate.

This is the light in which we view the criteria set by the EU Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions on Ukraine of 10 December 2012. Following the recent visit of Commissioner Fule to Kyiv the Ukrainian Government adopted a Plan of priority measures for 2013 aimed at promoting the European integration of Ukraine.

We are working within the logic of association, in the common understanding that the reforms concerned are essential for Ukraine and its people. The mentioned EU criteria correspond to our reform agenda in Ukraine, in terms of improving electoral legislation, judicial and economic reforms, as well as a proper implementation of teh Ukraine–EU Association Agenda. We have provided the EU with the first information on targeted actions and intend to achieve more substantial progress by May.

The main deliverable of the Summit is ground preparation for the signing of the Association Agreement, by confirming both sides respective determination. Other long-anticipated measures should follow in the area of energy security, particularly by reconfirming the principle of solidarity under the Energy Community Treaty – and a willingness to undertake concrete steps towards modernising the Ukrainian gas transit system.

Striking a deal on macro-financial assistance to Ukraine would complement any future agreement between Ukraine and the IMF, and would thus be an important victory.

In order to address existing shortcomings and stimulate the improvement of Ukraine's investment climate, making it more comfortable for EU companies, we will also launch a bilateral dialogue on the business climate.

And last but not the least, I expect the Summit to provide encouraging signals on the way to a visa-free regime between Ukraine and the EU. It is my strong belief that both sides should do their best to meet each others expectations."

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