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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following the EU-Ukraine Summit

Press conference

Kiev, 19 December 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The European Union and Ukraine had today a very important summit. We had the opportunity to discuss with President Yanukovych issues of common interest and also openly and constructively to exchange views on areas of concern.

I came to Kyiv with a clear message: the relationship with Ukraine is very important for the EU. We want Ukraine closer to the European Union and we welcome Ukraine's European choice. At the same time, the values that underpin our relationship need to be fully observed at all times.

Today we mark a major step in our relations: the finalization of the negotiations of the Association Agreement. This Agreement will contribute to our shared goal of furthering political association and economic integration. It also represents the best guarantee that Ukrainian citizens can enjoy a future based on European values and standards. This agreement also includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area which will be mutually beneficial to our countries and to our citizens allowing for an increase in our trade relations, foreign investment and also the creation of a more transparent business environment. This is not just about more trade, it is about real economic integration and regulatory convergence.

Having reached this important point, the time and pace for the next steps in the formalization of the Association Agreement will be determined by political developments in Ukraine. The key to strengthening our relationship is in the hands of the Ukrainian authorities.

I also had the opportunity to convey to President Yanukovych our concern regarding recent cases of what is perceived as selective justice in Ukraine against members of previous administrations, notably Mrs. Tymoshenko. And we also have discussed reforms, including in the constitutional and judicial spheres. It is precisely at a moment when we are striving to build strong and lasting relations that Ukraine needs to show its commitment to democratic principles, the rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In addition to discussing the strengthening of our political and economic ties, we reviewed the progress that has been made this year on implementing the Action Plan for Ukraine towards the establishment of a visa free regime for short stay travel. Considerable work has been done on this topic in the past year, and we reconfirmed very clearly our desire to take it forward as a top priority. It is essential that we succeed in facilitating mobility as people-to-people contacts are at the heart of the Association Agreement. As an intermediate step we have just concluded negotiations on an upgraded Visa Facilitation Agreement which will facilitate travel to the EU for further categories of Ukrainian citizens.

Furthermore, we reiterated the importance to sustained economic reforms, and stressed the need for effective implementation and enforcement of newly adopted anti-corruption laws to back these reforms. We reminded Ukraine that the economic growth prospects for the country can only be maximized with a better investment and a better business climate.

We also discussed our energy relations. Early this year Ukraine joined the energy community. We consider this a historic event and a concrete signal of Ukraine's European path. We stand ready to assists Ukraine in modernisation of its transit system and we expect that Ukraine's energy regulations will continue to abide by Energy Community principles. We are working with Ukraine and with the international financial institutions so that we can have concrete progress in the modernisation of the transit system in Ukraine.

We, in the European Union, look forward to strengthen our ties with Ukraine. 2012 marks the 20th year of Ukraine’s independence and I believe the best way to pay tribute to these past 20 years and prepare the next 20 years to come is through fully embracing our common European values that are at the basis of our Association. This is also the key for the progress in our relationship.

I thank you for your attention.

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