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European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Remarks by President Barroso following the extraordinary meeting of EU Heads of State and Government on Ukraine

Press conference

Brussels, 6 March 2014

Ladies and gentlemen,

The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, just presented the very important statement of the Heads of State and Government, unanimously approved today. The European Commission strongly supports this statement. I will not repeat what was just said, let me just highlight two or three points, more directly linked to the competences of the European Commission.

First of all, as it was mentioned by the President of the European Council, our first priority is a negotiated and peaceful outcome to the current crisis.

Europe is willing to do everything in its powers to contribute to a negotiated solution which respects the will of the Ukrainian people.

Today the European Union has also conveyed a strong message of support to the Prime Minister Yatseniuk and his government. And through them to the Ukrainian citizens. Not only we have reiterated the European Union's commitment to signing the Association Agreement - including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area -, we have also decided, as a matter of priority, that we will sign very shortly the political chapters. This means notably the general principles, the part on political cooperation and the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the Association Agreement. This will seal the political association of the European Union and Ukraine.

We have also expressed our readiness to support Ukraine to stabilise the economic and financial situation. I am pleased that the European Commission's presentation of an European Union aid package of a total amount of 11 billion Euros has been welcomed by all Heads of State and Government today. The Prime Minister of Ukraine has also expressed his gratitude for this very substantive package of support.

Now implementation is key. How can we do it as quickly and effective as possible?

This package of immediate short and medium term measures offers financial, economic, trade and technical assistance to Ukraine. I recall that three billion Euros of these funds will be drawn directly from the EU budget to support democratic reforms and the modernisation of the country’s economy.

It is crucial that the reforms which are linked to this assistance are fully owned by the Ukrainian authorities and part of a national reform programme for the country.

We can make a real difference for Ukraine with this package, which also includes support from European-based Financial Institutions, namely the EIB and the EBRD. And it is part of a wider European and international effort by Member States, but also by our international partners, including the IMF and the World Bank.

The Commission is also ready - and it received support today - to work fast to adopt proposals for unilateral trade measures already in the next weeks. This will save Ukraine hundreds of millions in import duties. This can help our friends in Ukraine a lot.

Another issue that we have discussed is energy security. Because energy security is essential for the stability and security of Ukraine. We will speed up work on reverse flows and on the modernisation of the transit system.

To conclude: This is the certainly the most serious situation we are facing in the European continent in many years in terms of stability and threats to peace. We need to show our citizens and the people of Ukraine that we are up to this task.

I believe that today's statement, unanimously approved by the Heads of State and Government, confirms this strong willingness on the part of the European Union. Today, the European Union is acting to support the democratic choices of the Ukrainian people and to help guarantee Europe’s peace and stability.

I thank you for your attention.

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