José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the 16th EU-Ukraine Summit
Joint press conference/Brussels
25 February 2013
This European Union-Ukraine Summit took place at a very important moment of our bilateral relations. A moment of definition for Ukraine’s European choice and a moment of definition for our relations with our Eastern partners as we prepare for the Vilnius Summit later this year.
This was a positive Summit and we had very open and constructive exchanges with President Yanukovich.
Our joint objective is to move towards political association and economic integration with Ukraine and all the partners who are willing and ready to do so.
Ukraine is already a member of the European family of nations and we want all Ukrainians to enjoy the benefits of that, through the signing and entering into force of the Association Agreement and the Free Trade Agreement.
The Association Agreement we have negotiated with Ukraine is the most advanced agreement of this type ever negotiated by the European Union and will bring concrete benefits to both EU and Ukraine's citizens.
The “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area” foreseen by the Agreement will give Ukraine greater access to the world's biggest internal market and bring significant benefits in terms of increased trade, investment and real economic modernisation.
It will also allow Ukraine to consolidate its future path and direction 22 years after its independence.
This is however a process that requires deep reforms, tangible and substantial progress and determined actions by the Ukrainian authorities.
I am glad that Ukraine, through President Yanukovich, has expressed its unequivocal commitment to seizing this opportunity to pursue genuine reforms and to uphold democratic values.
This same commitment was also expressed last Friday by the Ukrainian parliament, the Rada, with the approval of a resolution on European integration by more than 90% of the Members of the Parliament. We need now to translate these political statements into concrete results.
I now look forward to concrete action being taken in the three key areas set out in our joint communiqué: changes in the electoral code; overall political and economic reforms and decisively addressing the issue of selective justice. These are real and feasible benchmarks, which have to be tackled in the very short-term. Our Member States and also the European Parliament, namely through the mission led by President Cox and President Kwasniewski, are following these developments with great attention.
It is important to note that we are not making neither additional nor unilateral requests, but just asking the commitment to, and implementation of, the Association agenda that was commonly agreed. This is paramount if we are to move ahead and sign the Association Agreement as it is our joint objective.
We obviously stand ready to offer our assistance to Ukraine in pursuing this goal. As I said earlier during this Summit to Ukraine: you are not walking alone.
We discussed today precisely the areas where we can be of further assistance, such as macro-economic stability, trade, energy cooperation and mobility.
The European Union is very much committed to Ukraine's economic growth and modernisation, and we are aware of the economic challenges facing the country. This is why we have agreed on a Macro-Financial Assistance package of 610 million euros to support Ukraine's balance of payments over the coming years. This is the largest ever Macro-Financial Assistance package and represents a clear demonstration of our support to Ukraine’s prosperity.
We also discussed our energy relations. Ukraine is a very important partner and a member of our Energy community. We are committed to contributing to the modernisation of Ukraine’s gas transit system. We have also supported the conclusions of the very good meeting between Commissioner Oettinger, our Commissioner for Energy, and the Ukrainian Minister for Energy.
I have also said to President Yanukovich that we remain committed to our agenda for mobility. Visa liberalisation remains our final goal. Meanwhile I hope that the recently concluded visa facilitation agreement will allow for easier and freer circulation for several categories of Ukrainian citizens, such as students, researchers or business people.
Finally we had positive discussions on regional and multilateral issues, including the overall development of the region. In the spirit of ‘good neighbourly relations’ that we wish to foster, we have expressed our appreciation to President Yanukovych for the improvement of Ukraine's relations with the countries of the region.
Today is the third anniversary of your inauguration. It is a day for very important decisions. I hope to count on your commitment and personal support to achieve our common goal of political association and economic integration between the European Union and Ukraine. This can be achieved. I hope it will be achieved.
I thank you for your attention.