By H.E. Mr Mykola Tochytskyi, Head of the Mission of Ukraine to the EU.
2017 will be marked as the year of major milestones in Ukraine-EU relations. Recent full entry into force of the Association Agreement and introduction of visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens represent those symbolic achievements, which Ukrainians stood up for during the Revolution of Dignity (2013-2014) and continue to die from Russian aggression in the East of the country.
For Ukraine AA/DCFTA became a comprehensive blueprint of political, social and economic reforms, allowing us to achieve much more in recent 4 years than it had been done since regaining independence in 1991 (the first independent Ukrainian state was proclaimed 100 years ago – back in 1917).
Despite the ongoing Russian aggression and attempts of Moscow to destabilize the internal situation in Ukraine, we launched in 2017 new reforms in major sectors: education, judiciary, pension system, healthcare, public administration, cybersecurity and electoral law.
In 2017, Ukraine has climbed to 76th place in the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking, while three years ago we were at 112th. International trade in goods has risen by 25 % in the first nine months of 2017 while with the EU it increased even more – by 31% as a result of DCFTA. Real GDP growth amounted to 2% in the third quarter of 2017 while the National Bank of Ukraine forecasts it at 3.2% and 3.5% for 2018 – 2019 respectively.
Ukraine highly values the support of its sovereignty and territorial integrity by international partners, in particular the strong and united position of the European Union. Political and sanctions pressure on Moscow is crucial. But if we would like to see Minsk agreements implemented and Ukraine’s territorial integrity restored, the international engagement must be stepped up. Among key tools we see the deployment of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Donbas and launch of Crimea de-occupation mechanism.
Fully committed to fulfill our reform agenda priorities based foremost on the implementation of the Association Agreement, it’s also of crucial importance to develop a strategic vision of the future of Ukraine-EU partnership and be ready to move beyond the current framework.
In this regard, Ukraine presented a number of new initiatives concerning integration, in a long-term perspective, with the EU Customs Union, Energy Union, Digital Single Market as well as association with Schengen. The issues have been discussed at the highest level during the Ukraine-EU Summit in July 2017 as well as at the recent Eastern partnership Summit in Brussels.
We are ready to start joint work with the EU on elaboration of the relevant roadmaps and undertaking necessary feasibility studies. Ukraine as major energy transit county plays an important role for European energy security and is ready to contribute to creation of the Energy Union.
On the other hand, with its Europe’s largest software development industry, Ukraine is looking forward to expanding its cooperation with the EU in the area of digital economy and society. Thus, participation in the Digital Single market would be beneficial for both Ukrainian and EU citizens, in particular through reduced roaming charges, deployment of modernized broadband internet networks, data protection, advanced digital solutions for e-government and e-commerce.
We have defended our European future back in 2014 and are ready to do all the hard work in order to make this future a reality. We set up a concrete strategic goal – full-fledged membership in the European Union – and the Association Agreement has become our roadmap to this end. To make this goal a success it is important that both sides share the strategic vision of the partnership transforming this one way road into a two-way street.