Wednesday

1st Apr 2020

Ukraine lowers ambitions for EU summit

  • The pre-summit maneuvering comes amid a sharp deterioration in EU-Ukraine relations in recent weeks (Photo: thisisbossi)

Ukrainian negotiators have said there is no need to initial an EU trade and association pact at a summit in Kiev in December as previously planned.

Deputy foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin told press in Brussels on Monday (7 November) "For me, it [the summit] is not about deliverables in a formal way ... We need a powerful statement, that we have concluded all the negotiations, but whether we initial it or not is less important."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

He quipped that the trade part of the agreement itself has 1,800 pages, making it physically hard to put the chief negotiators' initials on every page in just one day.

The change of plan comes amid Ukrainian complaints that the EU is unwilling to include a clear promise on future accession in the pact.

An EU diplomat noted that making a "political statement" without the formal act of completion leaves Ukraine free to reopen talks on the accession promise at a later date. "They are thinking: 'Better wait and play some more. Nothing is decided until everything is decided.' But they know there is no EU consensus on enlargement. So this puts things on a knife edge. It puts the whole deal into deep freeze," the contact said.

The pre-summit manoeuvring comes amid a sharp deterioration in EU-Ukraine relations in recent weeks.

EU leaders snubbed President Viktor Yanukovych last month by cancelling a meeting in Brussels after he jailed his political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko.

His tough line on accession could be a pretext to bin the EU pact, freeing him to consolidate power at home and to focus on Ukraine-Russia relations instead. The new line on initialing could also be a face-saving exercise in case the EU side pulls back from the deal because of the Tymoshenko problem.

Klimkin on Monday said he was confident the summit will go ahead on 19 December because the EU would "send the wrong signal" if it also cancelled the event.

But faced with the prospect of Tymoshenko stuck behind bars while EU officials Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso pose for snaps with Yanukovych, the EU side is not so sure.

Asked if the summit will definitely take place, EU foreign relations spokeswoman Maja Kocjancic told EUobserver on Monday: "We are working on the assumption that it will go ahead as foreseen but obviously I can't be 100 percent certain."

The EU diplomat noted: "I think Barroso and Van Rompuy realise they went a bit over the top [in cancelling the October meeting]. If nothing else negative happens, the summit should go ahead. But if nothing positive happens, the atmosphere will be very cold."

Russia and Ukraine make nice after EU snub

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has told Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych he can jail his political rivals as far as Moscow is concerned, after the EU made him persona non grata.

Brinksmanship on all sides ahead of EU-Ukraine summit

The EU is continuing to call for legal reform in Ukraine, while Ukraine is still demanding an EU accession promise ahead of a summit that is unlikely to see the initialing of a landmark association treaty.

News in Brief

  1. Danish conservatives want Orban party kicked out of EPP
  2. Dutch finance minister repents on virus help
  3. France to house domestic violence victims in hotels
  4. Europe sends medical goods to Iran, despite US embargo
  5. Commission sets consultation on raising 2030 climate target
  6. 12-year old Belgian girl dies of coronavirus
  7. EU commission: no 'indefinite' emergency measures
  8. Denmark plans 'gradual' return to normal after Easter

Opinion

Trump's 'plan' for Israel will go against EU values

As someone who has been personally targeted by Benjamin Netanyahu's incitement against Arabs and Palestinians, Christians, Muslims and Druze, I still believe that peace is possible. But Donald Trump's 'plan' will be a gift to Netanyahu's campaign.

China spy suspect worked for EU for 30 years

The former EU ambassador suspected by German prosecutors of spying for China was Gerhard Sabathil, according to EU officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. Without European patriotism, EU decline is inevitable
  2. EU cancels April Fool's 'fake news'
  3. A coronavirus 'Marshall Plan' alone won't be nearly enough
  4. Trying to think straight about coronavirus
  5. Berlin ready to airlift Greek island refugees
  6. Von der Leyen criticises Hungary, but fails to mention it
  7. Air pollution drops in Europe, but how long will it last?
  8. Human rights abusers don't stop for virus, MEPs tell EU

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us