Prospect of Ukraine’s EU membership “realistic”

The Commission’s updated Ukraine Action Plan does not amount to
a full review, and any bid by Kiev for full membership of the EU
remains a matter for the future. However, such a prospect is
“realistic”.

While the EU recognises Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko’s
European ambitions, welcoming Kiev’s “strategic choice” for reform,
Brussels has also made clear that the country is not yet in line
for membership. 

“Eventually it is a realistic vision for the future that Ukraine
should join [the EU] without today going out and saying we have a
concrete date or an offer,” said Commission Vice President Margot
Wallstrom on 24 January, slightly upping the ante on statements by
other EU leaders, who preferred to point to the updates of
the Ukraine Action Plan. The updates will go before EU foreign
ministers on 31 January. 

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and External Relations
Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner have said that the
updated plan, which sets out a course for the next three years
in ten points, does not amount to a full review of the initial
plan.

The EU’s new proposals include: 

  • an increased loan package
  • lower trade barriers
  • co-operation on immigration as well as foreign and security
    policy issues
  • discussion about a Ukrainian free trade area
  • European backing to Ukraine’s application for World Trade
    Organisation membership
  • the prospect of offering Ukraine the status of market
    economy 

However, the document does not mention the prospect of Kiev’s
accession.

On his first post-election visit to the West, Yushchenko is
scheduled to assure the Council of Europe of his respect for human
rights on 25 January, and then two days later he is slated to
address the European Parliament. 

Meanwhile, Yushchenko’s office in Kiev announced the appointment
of 44-year-old Yulia Tymoshenko to the post of prime minister.
Tymoshenko, a fiery opposition leader, has said that her aim is to
restart Ukraine’s bid for EU membership, although she added that
the country should not enter the process “half ready”.

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