EU-Ukraine: Taking stock of the state of play and necessary reforms
Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met with First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Valeriy Khoroshkovsky in Brussels today. The meeting provided an opportunity to review the state of EU-Ukraine relations, focusing on issues that currently stand in the way of taking full advantage of the bilateral relationship and moving forward on the basis of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement with its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
Commissioner Füle underlined the critical importance for Ukraine to demonstrate a solid commitment to the rule of law and democratic values, borne out by concrete actions, in order to facilitate further steps towards the signing and ratification of the Association Agreement. He repeated that Ukraine should make every effort to dispel concerns over politically motivated trials, addressing this issue as part of a broader reform of the judiciary. The October parliamentary elections should be prepared and conducted in line with international standards, including with respect to media freedom, equal access to media and freedom of assembly.
Commissioner Füle and First Deputy Prime Minister Khoroshkovsky exchanged views on the priority reforms set out in the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda. They discussed in particular the need to take concrete action to improve the business climate in Ukraine, as well as Ukraine’s plans to strengthen its public finance management system and other aspects of economic reform.
In light of recent developments Commissioner Füle expressed disappointment at the enactment of amendments to the law on the functioning of the Prosecutor's Office, which were not consulted with the Venice Commission and represent a missed opportunity to reform the Prosecutor’s office in line with European standards. He also expressed concerns about the current draft of the law re-criminalising defamation which raises concerns of having a negative impact on the freedom of the media.
Commenting on the meeting, Commissioner Füle stated: “It was a good opportunity to take stock of the state-of-play in EU-Ukraine relations in general, and on some sectoral matters in particular. The text of the Association Agreement and its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, now initialled, is on the table and represents a valuable reform tool for Ukraine’s modernisation which can be already pursued. I sincerely hope that Ukraine will demonstrate its commitment to European values and reforms, allowing us to further develop our relationship, to sign, ratify and implement the Association Agreement. To this end, the conduct of the upcoming parliamentary elections, the redress of the consequences of selective justice and further steps to reform the judiciary and overall progress in the implementation of the Association Agenda are critical."