Sunday

4th Dec 2016

Opinion

What now for EU-Ukraine relations?

  • Independence square in Kiev - the elite is not the only group with a voice in Ukraine (Photo: wikipedia)

In view of how the Ukrainian parliamentary elections of 28 October went, the prospects of signing the EU-Ukraine association agreement any time soon look dim.

What should the EU do now? Below, we present a list of concrete steps that Brussels should consider undertaking soon to re-intensify EU-Ukraine relations:

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

1. Set out, in a single and clearly formulated written document, the conditions Ukraine has to fulfil for the association agreement be signed.

So far, there has been a cacophony of EU representatives' statements on this issue. The EU's statement has to be made public and to be presented as an appeal to Ukrainian society as much as to the political elite.

2. Leak the text of the agreement to the public. So far, the EU's offer has been a pig in the poke: There is much talk about the treaty, yet very few people have ever seen it.

Once leaked, journalists, politicians, business people, lawyers and academics will start reading and analysing those sections that interest them and that could become relevant to them.

3. Sign and ratify the association agreements with Moldova and Georgia once negotiations are concluded. This way, the EU will show that its announced more-for-more principle is a reality. Such a step would embarrass the current Ukrainian leadership

4. Consider giving Moldova and, possibly, Georgia too a conditional EU membership perspective. Indicate that such offers may be made to other countries in future, if they respect common values and show adequate political will.

5. Accelerate the visa liberalisation process as much as possible. The European Parliament, should, sooner rather than later, ratify the already agreed amendments to the visa facilitation agreement.

EU member states' consulates in Kiev should become more customer-friendly.

Brussels should reiterate that entirely visa-free travel will become a reality once Ukraine has implemented the reform programme outlined in the visa liberalisation action plan.

6. Support Ukraine's approximation efforts in those sectors that are important for the future association agreement and where no resistance from special interests to their execution exists. Down-to-earth technical standards will, in any way, have to be implemented at some point.

7. Engage more actively with some of Ukraine's so-called "oligarchs." Often substantive decisions in Ukraine are predetermined behind the scenes by actors who may not hold any significant official posts, but who control significant parts of Ukraine's GDP.

These "oligarchs" include a variety of personalities - some of whom are more dubious and some less so. With a selected circle of the latter, the EU should seek a dialogue concerning what the EU wants from the Ukrainian government, and what the association agreement means for Ukraine's economy.

8. Create a Ukraine research and information centre providing competent political, economic, social and legal consulting on current Ukrainian affairs.

This centre could publish a weekly analytical bulletin as well as a monthly or, at least, bimonthly specialised journal on Ukrainian politics, business, history and society.

Such a centre may also hold annual conventions, monthly expert round-tables, irregular public conferences or occasional press conferences which would bring together academic researchers, policy analysts, journalists, social activists and decision-makers dealing with Ukraine.

If implemented swiftly and simultaneously, these measures could produce tangible results in EU-Ukraine relations within a relatively short period of time - within the next three to five years.

They would not cost the EU much, but could markedly change the atmosphere in relations between Kiev and Brussels.

Iryna Solonenko is a researcher into EU-eastern policies at the European University Viadrina of Frankfurt/Oder in Germany. Andreas Umland is a lecturer on European studies at the National University of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine. A longer version of this article is forthcoming in the Foreign Policy journal.

Column / Crude World

Shinzo Abe's hot-tub diplomacy

Why European leaders should learn from Japanese prime minister's failing diplomacy with Russia and not make the same mistakes.

Opinion

The young didn’t choose Trump or Brexit

Young people have been sold down the river by this year's political events, but it's not too late for Europe to safeguard the future for the world's youth.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIElects Leaders and Sets Safety & Health at Work and Gender Equality Among the Guidelines For Next Term
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  3. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security