Sunday

17th Dec 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

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

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states

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