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Brussels, 27 August 2013
EU-Ukraine: Statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle following the meeting with Andriy Klyuyev about the road to signing the Association Agreement
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, met today with Andriy Klyuyev, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, appointed by the President of Ukraine to ensure coordination of activities of the central executive authorities in the field of European integration of Ukraine and interaction with EU institutions. This is what Commissioner Fule said to the media after the meeting:
'I am glad to resume working after the summer break with Andriy Klyuyev who is in charge of coordinating the activities of the Ukrainian authorities in the area of European integration.
With Ukraine, we are currently focusing on the joint ambition to have the Association Agreement (AA) signed at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius this November.
Our meeting today provided the opportunity to discuss both: progress and outstanding issues. It was also an opportunity to look into the necessary legislative work for the early autumn.
But before going into the details let me first stress what this meeting was not about:
This meeting was not about dropping any of the EU demands and criteria for the signature of the Association Agreement.
This meeting was also not about deciding if we sign or not, or if we modify any of the conditions.
So what was this meeting indeed about? It was very thorough and technical. It aimed specifically at taking stock of the actions taken by Ukraine to follow up on the commitments needed for a successful signature of the Association Agreement.
I welcomed in particular that the process of preparing a reform of the functioning of the Prosecutor's Office in line with the European standards has advanced by the submission of a draft law to the Council of Europe and Venice Commission to provide their recommendations.
I also appreciated the initiative of the Ministry of Justice to organize a series of roundtables on improving the electoral legislation. At the same time, the EU expects to see unequivocal and concrete elements of progress in the coming weeks.
I have emphasized to Mr Klyuyev the need to ensure determined action and tangible progress on all the benchmarks set out in the December Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) conclusions.
We have discussed the resolution of the outstanding case of selective justice and further reform of the judiciary, the improvement of the electoral legislation, the establishment of dates for by-elections in the outstanding five single mandate constituencies, clear rules for balanced media access to electoral competitors, and the need to improve the business climate.
We have some serious trade concerns related to Ukraine, such as the recent adoption of the law introducing car recycling fees due to enter into force on 1st September. We expect that the solutions to our concern about trade irritants will be swift and in line with WTO rules.
The Verkhovna Rada and parties represented there will play a critical role in the overall process. Important legislative work needs to be carried out in the coming weeks in order to implement the EU benchmarks in time for the proper assessment by the EU before the Vilnius summit.
I intend to discuss these issues also with the representatives of the opposition here in Brussels this Thursday. It is necessary to promote the dialogue between government, opposition and civil society to discuss in a comprehensive and inclusive manner the road of Ukraine towards the signature of the Association Agreement. I am ready to contribute to such a dialogue.
We have also touched upon the recent developments in and around Ukraine and I reiterated the EU's position that any outside pressure on Ukraine related to its ambition to sign the Association Agreement with the EU is not acceptable.
We are currently witnessing a more assertive Russian policy in this respect. There have been comments from Moscow that signing the Association Agreement/ Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (AA/DCFTA) would trigger a permanent tightening of customs procedures for Ukrainian goods entering Russia.
Let me recall that the AA does not prevent Ukraine from developing a constructive relationship with the Eurasian Customs Union as long as this is based on the respect of WTO rules and does not contradict the DCFTA.
In view of Russia's concerns over rules-of-origin problems, it is worth recalling that in the context of the Russia/Ukraine free trade area, in the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), EU goods exported to Ukraine through the future DCFTA will not qualify for preferential treatment when exported from Ukraine to Russia. Therefore, the signature of a free trade agreement with a third party, meaning us, may not be used as a justification for the tightening of customs procedures.
Let me stress that the Association Agreement will not be at the expense of Ukraine's relations with Russia or other neighbours. And we strongly believe that it would bring benefit to all.'