Tuesday

18th Jun 2019

First part of EU-Ukraine treaty to enter into life in June

  • Ukrainian wheat: The blue and gold is repeated on the flag of Ukraine, once called the "bread basket of Europe" for its good soil (Photo: valdemar.fishmen)

The European Commission has offered to drop import duties for most Ukrainian goods in a move to enter into life in June and to save Ukrainian businesses €500 million a year.

Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso noted on Tuesday (11 March) “this will of course not be the only measure of support to Ukraine” and that his officials will “next week” spell out conditions for a €1 billion emergency loan to prop up its treasury.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

His trade chief, Karel De Gucht, said: “We are all aware of the economic plight facing Ukraine right now. This trade action is more than a gesture - it is an economic life-line.”

De Gucht noted that MEPs should debate the trade move before their summer recess, paving the way for adoption by EU states in June, with Ukrainian exporters to feel the benefits “just weeks after.”

The customs waiver was originally part of an EU-Ukraine free trade agreement which Ukraine’s former leader, Viktor Yanukovych, refused to sign, prompting the protests which led to his fall.

The EU is also due to sign parts of a political association treaty in March.

It aims to sign the whole trade and association deal after Ukrainian presidential elections in May. Tuesday’s customs move is to stay in place until 1 November, but De Gucht noted that if something goes awry on the treaty signature process “we could prolong the measure.”

The customs move will contain some restrictions designed to protect EU companies.

For one, the new administration in Kiev must certify that goods originated in Ukraine to stop other countries abusing the system by re-exporting to the EU via Ukraine. It must also agree not to impose new fees to divert the benefits from Ukrainian firms to state coffers.

Meanwhile, some 5 percent of Ukrainian industrial products, including chemicals, are to see “lower” tariffs rather than zero tariffs.

About 18 percent of Ukrainian agricultural exports - including cereals, pork, beef, poultry, and some processed foods - will be subject to “tariff rate quotas,” or zero tariffs but only up to a certain limit of export levels.

For his part, Ukraine’s interim PM, Arseniy Yastenyuk said in parliament the same day the country is facing “an economic catastrophe.”

He also warned he will have to implement austerity measures to get the EU and international loans: “Ukraine will undergo a difficult period - cost reduction and decrease of social standards. But such harsh measures will give an opportunity for economic growth in a short time.”

Yanukovych also spoke on Tuesday from his bolthole in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.

He accused the three EU foreign ministers - from France, Germany, and Poland - who signed a transition agreement on 21 February, the day before he fled, of “trampling” on the deal by endorsing the Yastenyuk government, whom he denounced as “bandits” and “fascists".

The interim government is dominated by the Batkivshchyna party of former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko and by Svoboda, a radical nationalist group.

The idea that they are “bandits” and “fascists” is a theme in Russian propaganda. But civil society activists in Ukraine are also concerned by some of the new appointments.

Ludmyla Denysova, who now runs the labour ministry, is dogged by corruption allegations from her time as Tymoshenko’s social affairs minister between 2007 and 2010. In one example, she appointed her own daughter, who had no relevant experience, as chief of state inspection for control of prices in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.

The new minister for internal affairs, Arsen Avakov, and energy, Yuriy Prodan, have a similar image problem.

For its part, the British daily The Independent on Tuesday reported that lawyers hired to dig up dirt on Tymoshenko found 85 foreign bank accounts linked to her or her relatives. One of them, in NatWest bank in London, contained €48 million.

The information came from a report, seen by the British paper, which was drawn up by Lawrence Graham, a London-based law firm hired by Yanukovych.

But Tymoshenko’s lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, told The Independent it is “a direct lie … part of a big, dirty propaganda war.”

Khodorkovsky: Putin fears Ukraine 'revolution'

Russian oligarch-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said the Kremlin “fears” the Ukrainian revolution, but warned Ukraine not to expect too much help from the West.

Merkel: Comparing Crimea to Kosovo is 'shameful'

German Chancellor Merkel has said it is "shameful" to compare the independence of Kosovo with Crimea's independence referendum and called on Russia to stop its actions in Ukraine or face economic sanctions.

Putin redraws map of Europe

Russian leader Putin on Tuesday signed a treaty making Crimea part of Russia, shortly before the crisis claimed its first casualty.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  2. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  3. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  4. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  5. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  6. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  7. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July
  8. Austria's Strache will not take up EU parliament seat

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  2. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  3. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  4. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  5. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  6. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  7. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  8. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us