Members of European Commission and of the Government of Ukraine, headed respectively by President Barroso and Prime Minister Yatseniuk, met today in Brussels.
Taking place after the signing on 21 March 2014 of the political chapters of the Association Agreement, today's unprecedented meeting marks the beginning of a new chapter in EU-Ukraine relations. It is proof of the EU's and Ukraine's joint commitment to bring forward work in a reinforced manner towards Ukraine's political association and economic integration with the EU.
The European Commission reaffirmed the EU's strong support for Ukraine's unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The Commission and the Government of Ukraine reiterated their strong condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, which the EU and Ukraine will not recognise. Ukraine welcomed the Commission's preparations for comprehensive legal consequences of the annexation, also with regard to the territorial application of the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, and agreed to launch a mechanism of bilateral consultations on those issues. Both sides expressed alarm at the continued efforts by pro-Russian separatists to destabilise Eastern and Southern Ukraine and considered the so-called referenda organised by self-proclaimed authorities on 11 May in parts of Eastern Ukraine to be illegal.
The European Commission and the Government of Ukraine agreed on the importance of holding free and fair Presidential elections on 25 May to allow the Ukrainian people to choose their own future without undue external interference. Both sides reconfirmed their full commitment to the Geneva Joint Statement of 17 April on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tension and restore security for all citizens, the Commission welcomed the steps taken so far by the Ukrainian authorities to this end, including by working towards constitutional reform and decentralisation in a broad national dialogue. The European Commission and the Government of Ukraine agreed on the importance to move ahead in the constitutional process in an inclusive, transparent and accountable manner, to establish a broad and inclusive national dialogue and on the importance of an independent investigation into the tragic 2 May events in Odesa. Both sides took note of the OSCE roadmap and fully support the efforts undertaken by the OSCE and its CiO to contribute to de-escalating and stabilising the situation through concrete steps including the establishment of round tables while ensuring Ukrainian ownership.
At the meeting, the European Commission and the Government of Ukraine agreed to continue implementation of the joint inclusive European Agenda for Reform which combines Ukraine's short- and medium-term needs and exchanged views on the first progress in this regard. The parties discussed the ways of EU support to political, economic and financial stability in Ukraine, notably through the Support Group for Ukraine set up by the European Commission and the institution within the Government of Ukraine to coordinate the process of European integration. They reconfirmed their commitment to swiftly sign the remaining provisions of the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, and reiterated that this does not constitute the final goal in EU-Ukraine cooperation.
In order to help ensure effective delivery and maximise the impact of the EU economic and development assistance as well as heighten its visibility, the Commission and Ukraine are exploring avenues to enhance international donor coordination by setting up, together with the international community and international financial institutions, an ad hoc donor coordination mechanism.
At the meeting, Ukraine and the European Commission signed the Financing Agreement for a State Building Contract worth € 355 million to help the country's transition, accompanied by € 10 million to boost the role of the civil society. The first disbursement of € 250 million will take place shortly after the signature.
Both sides welcomed the entry into force on 23 April of the Regulation on the reduction or elimination of customs duties on goods originating in Ukraine as a meaningful support measure to Ukraine until 1 November 2014, pending signature and provisional application of the DCFTA. The European Commission welcomes the first steps by the Ukrainian Government to address long-standing concerns on WTO-inconsistent trade measures, in particular in the car sector and in relation to the request to renegotiate bound tariff commitments.
The Government of Ukraine and the European Commission also welcomed the IMF Executive Board decision to approve a two-year Stand-By Arrangement for Ukraine of € 12.4 billion ($ 17.01) billion. The EU will soon disburse the first tranche of a combined € 1.61 billion ($ 2.2 billion) Macro Financial Assistance loan programme approved for Ukraine by the EU. The implementation of this Macro-Financial Assistance programme has advanced today with the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding by the Ukrainian Minister of Finance and the Memorandum of Understanding is now pending ratification in the Ukrainian Parliament.
Both sides noted the importance of the trilateral energy talks launched in Warsaw on 2 May aimed at safeguarding the security of supply and transit of natural gas to and through Ukraine. They agreed on the need to ensure energy supply to Ukraine on the basis of a fair and transparent market price. They also agreed on the importance of continuing energy sector reforms in Ukraine. They took note of the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding and Framework Interconnection Agreement between Eustream and Ukrtransgaz enabling gas flows from Slovakia to Ukraine. Ukraine thanked the EU for its strong commitment in support of Ukraine's energy security sector, in particular modernisation of its gas-transit system.
The European Commission and the Government of Ukraine expressed their strong support to the signing of the EU-Ukraine Common Aviation Area Agreement at the occasion of the next Transport Council on 5 June. This agreement will bring huge benefits in terms of increased opportunities for airlines, business and travelling public and of improved trade conditions while leading to reduced prices for consumers.
Both sides agreed on the importance of increased people-to-people contacts between the citizens of Ukraine and of the European Union. The Commission welcomed adoption today by the Verkhovna Rada of a package of four important pieces of legislation and other recent legislative steps for the implementation of the first stage of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan. The Commission assured its support to Ukrainian efforts to move forward the visa liberalisation process as quickly as possible.
The sides welcomed the intention of Ukraine to become associated to the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation "Horizon 2020".
The sides agreed to maintain close interaction and effective coordination with a view of further deepening Ukraine's political association and economic integration with the EU.