Since July 2014 the European Commission has carried out intense efforts in the trilateral talks with Ukraine and Russia on the DCFTA implementation as of 1 January 2016. Throughout the process the EU has been attentive to Russia's concerns and put forward proposals for practical solutions without amending the DCFTA. However, Russia made requests that were not substantiated or could not be accommodated as they were not in line with WTO or EU legislation. The EU has proposed several constructive proposals on the three main areas of the talks, namely technical barriers to trade (TBT), sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) and customs cooperation.
The European Commission has offered to keep talking in a trilateral working group from 1 January 2016, on the condition that Russia upheld its Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) FTA obligations towards Ukraine.
The decree issued by President Putin on 16 December 2015 suspending the CIS FTA towards Ukraine added an element of political pressure and contradicted the conditions set out in the Minsk declarations to engage in the trilateral talks.
European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkim and Russian Minister for Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev could not come to a political agreement during the talks today in Brussels on the practical solutions to Russia's concerns related to the implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between the EU and Ukraine.
Commissioner Malmström said "We spent 18 months in extensive discussions on TBT, SPS and customs cooperation to accommodate Russia's concerns. We were ready to make the efforts needed to reach a joint understanding. Therefore, I was deeply surprised by President Putin's decree of 16 December 2015 that suspends all Russia's obligations towards Ukraine in the framework of the CIS FTA. This measure goes against the mandate, the spirit and the objective of these talks." Russia's continued insistence on a legally binding agreement, which would amount to a reopening of the bilateral agreement between the EU and Ukraine, could not be accommodated, as has been made clear throughout these talks. The Commissioner added that "As has been conveyed from the beginning of the talks and reconfirmed by President Juncker last week the DCFTA cannot be amended – neither directly nor indirectly."
More background information on the trilateral talks on the implementing of the DCFTA is available here.