EU and Ukraine start co-operation talks

The EU and Ukraine have begun talks to launch a new “Enhanced Agreement”, which would include a free-trade area and increased energy co-operation. However, the EU has once again dashed Ukraine hopes of a membership perspective.

External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said: “This will be a very comprehensive agreement, it will be based on the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA), but it will be much deeper.”

However, plans for a free-trade area can only be launched as soon as Ukraine has completed its accession process to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Ukraine hopes to join the WTO within the first half of 2007.

The special focus of the new agreement will be placed on energy. Ferrero-Waldner said: “Ukraine is a key energy partner for the EU and the new agreement will help us to go further in ensuring energy security, improving energy safety and environmental standards and progress towards integration of our electricity and gas markets.”

Ukraine is one of the most important transit countries for energy supplies coming from Russia. The EU is also aiming to renew its energy partnership with Russia by the end of 2007.

Once again, the EU had to dash Ukraine’s hopes of a membership perspective. Chief negotiator Andriy Veselovsky said that his country was seeking to “integrate into the EU”, but the main problem was to bring “these ideas to the Commission”.

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