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Luxembourg, 24 June 2013
EU-Ukraine: Good progress but still more to be done
Remarks of Commissioner Štefan Füle to the press after the EU Ukraine Cooperation Council in Luxembourg
One year ago, I started the press conference after the Cooperation Council by noting that discussions had focussed on how Ukraine could get back on track to political association.
Today, we are in a different situation. Since the adoption of the FAC December conclusions - with concrete benchmarks and a concrete time perspective for the possible signing of the Association Agreement/ Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (AA/DCFTA) - there is a renewed sense of commitment and direction in our relations. But the window of opportunity is short and there is no plan B if we would miss the Vilnius target.
Ukraine has made good progress in some areas, for example the release of Mr Lutsenko and re-instatement by Mr Filipchuk's in his rights; the progress in the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code; and the recent opinion of the Venice Commission on the draft changes to the Constitution with a view to strengthening the independence of judges.
However, more needs to be done by Ukraine to achieve tangible progress on all the benchmarks. As the EU will evaluate Ukraine's progress – and the opportunity of signing the agreement in early autumn – time is running preciously short. Increased determination and reinforced action is now needed.
I emphasized the need for a clear strategy to deal with the issue of selective justice and encouraged Ukraine to work closely with the Cox and Kwaśniewski mission to this end. Increased attention also needs to be given to the necessary judicial reforms to prevent any recurrence: the recent opinions by the Venice Commission need to be taken into consideration and its assessment sought on the other outstanding reforms, notably the key reform of the functioning of the General Prosecutor’s Office.
On electoral reform, we stressed the need for inclusive discussions and to take into account the recent joint opinion by Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)/ Venice Commission. Prime attention should be given to the consideration of an Election Code to ensure uniform electoral procedures for all types of elections. We also look forward to dates being set for the five single mandate constituencies and for the Kyiv elections this year.
I called on PM Azarov to make every effort to create an environment conducive for dialogue and cooperation on EU related reforms and actions. I would like to make a similar appeal to the opposition to engage constructively on the European agenda, in particular in the crucial months ahead.
The EU reaffirmed its commitment to the shared objective of visa-free travel, providing that the conditions for well-managed and secure mobility are in place. I called on Ukraine to swiftly address the remaining issues to complete the first phase benchmarks of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation - anti-discrimination and anti-corruption legislation needs to fully take into account the Commission's recommendations.