Monday

18th Dec 2017

EU gives Ukraine enlargement hint

  • Sikorski (c): 'It’s more than many were ready to accept even this morning' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU countries have for the first time since the Orange Revolution indicated that Ukraine might one day join the European Union.

The bloc’s foreign ministers said in a joint statement in Brussels on Monday (10 February): “The Council expresses its conviction that this agreement does not constitute the final goal in EU-Ukraine co-operation."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The “agreement” is the EU’s current offer of a political association and free trade treaty.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton declined to go further than the carefully worded communique, which falls far short of the explicit EU promise given to the Western Balkan states. “The words mean what they say,” she told press in the EU capital.

Germany said nothing on the matter.

But Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski, who proposed the “final goal” statement, gave the words more force.

Referring to article 49 of the EU treaty, which says any “European state” can join if it meets criteria, he told media: “We have opened the door and given the hope to the Ukrainian nation that, if Ukraine embarks on the course of reform, then it has the chance to take full advantage of European integration and treaty provisions.”

He described the EU ministers’ debate as “emotional … lively,” adding: “It’s more than many were ready to accept even this morning, so I consider it an achievement.”

He noted the EU is making a special effort on Ukraine, because Poland itself did not have any “enlargement perspective” when it signed its EU association pact in 1993, 11 years before it joined.

The EU ministers also discussed the prospect of EU financial aid for Ukraine and the threat of sanctions.

Sikorski said “various estimates” of potential EU and International Monetary Fund assistance for Ukraine if it makes reforms add up to €20 billion.

But other ministers noted this is the same offer which was on the table before the protests broke out, despite recent remarks by Ashton the EU is working on a new “Ukrainian Plan.”

"We as the EU cannot enter in a competition of billions compared to what Russia can put at Ukraine's disposal. The EU could not come up with that kind of money on its own. So we have to dismiss any impressions there is such a competition,” Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

On sanctions, Sikorski said Ashton on her two last visits to Kiev conveyed a “very strong mesage” there would be “consequences” if Ukrainian authorities used force to break up protests.

Steinmeier noted that talks between opposition MPs and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have hit a “standstill.”

He added: “Today there was a clear consensus that as long as there are changes and improvements in the government-opposition talks, there is no need to decide on sanctions. But if the time comes that we say Yanukovych and his people are blocking talks, we'll have to decide on sanctions."

Luxembourg’s Jean Asselborn noted it is “unfortunate,” that Ukraine’s former PM, Mykola Azarov, who is widely blamed for the initial wave of police brutality, “left Kiev on a private plane to another country and there is speculation that this man is very, very rich.”

The country in question is Austria, according to reports in Ukrainian independent media.

Steinmeier and Asselborn also complained about the US approach to Ukraine.

Their comments come after a bugged phone call by the US’ top official on Europe, Victoria Nuland, was uploaded on YouTube in which she, now famously, said “fuck the EU.”

Asselborn remarked it is not the expletive itself which caused “annoynace” but “the belief that the EU is not capable of handling the situation and is letting Russia do what it wants.”

Steinmeier made the same point.

“Ultimately, it is not the line that bothers me … what bothers me is the attitude behind it,” he said.

“The belief that situations that are not easily changed from outside can be changed just by telling the Europeans they are too lenient with conflictual partners, and that a few sanctions would move things which are blocked. This does not correspond to my analysis of the conflicts that have taken place in our neighbourhood in the last few years.”

Opinion

Time for EU to get serious on Ukraine

The EU’s language of “concern” has worn thin on the cold streets of Kiev: People need a promise of accession and practical help for genuine reform.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty

The EU and its members states have signed up to 'Faustian pact' with Libyan authorities in the their effort to prevent migrant and refugee boat departures towards Italy, says Amnesty International.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives