EU-Ukraine Integration at a Crossroad – Opportunities and Risks of the Association Process

On 11 June 2019, the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels attended the event “EU-Ukraine Integration at a Crossroad – Opportunities and Risks of the Association Process”, organised by Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Promote Ukraine. The discussion covered the impact of current Ukrainian politics, as well as the aftermath of EU parliamentary elections and forthcoming EU strategies on current and future association processes.

Volodymyr Sidenko, Senior Research Fellow, Razumkov Centre, made a general assessment of the crisis of European integration and stated that “the crisis process is not a doom but a window of opportunities – a road to reformatting”. Mr Sidenko referred to European Commission’s scenarios for EU-27 Development up to 2025 as of March 2017 and stated that partial reforms implemented in recent years in the EU and the Euro area are incomplete, as they leave room for different trajectories in the future. He stressed that objectively, a significant ‘unloading’ of the European agenda is needed to make it functionally more suitable for effective community regulation. Mr Sidenko underlined that there is a possibility of a conflict between new EU’s institutional formats and the Association Agreement. Possibly, there may be a disruption caused by the situation where the pace of institutional change in the EU significantly exceeds the pace of institutional change in Ukraine. In order to adjust Ukraine’s internal instruments of European integration policy formation, it is needed to create a permanently operating system of integrated scientific and analytical support relating to European integration as well as to launch and fund a long-term Ukrainian research initiative on strategic issues of the country’s development.    

Taras Byk, Government Relations Director, Wooden Horse Strategies, started his presentation by quoting Dmitriy Medvedev statement – “Election result demonstrated clear demand for new approaches for the solution of the problems of Ukraine” and added that citizens of Ukraine have not accepted policy of the previous governing elite. He stated that the European Union should not allow Russia to return to PACE and no sanctions should be lifted. He stressed the need for Ukraine to become independent in the energy sector, as well as hinder the spread of populism. In the end, Mr Byk highlighted that the European Union should encourage Ukrainian authorities to continue reforms as well as developing mutually beneficial mechanisms of dealing with labour migration from Ukraine.

Byk: “Ukraine needs the EU, the EU needs Ukraine, let’s stay together”.

Ulla Hakanen, Team Leader for Ukraine, Eastern Partnership Bilateral Relations, European External Action Service, started her speech by saying that European External Action Service welcomes the conduct of democratic elections in Ukraine and the overall electoral process, while the same is expected during parliamentary elections. She added that the election result shows very high expectations from Ukrainian citizens for further progress in the reforms, but still more work has to be done. She emphasised that a lot of legislation in Ukraine is still to be adopted, especially those relevant to the implementation of the Association Agreement (AA). For example, in the energy sector, updated energy annex to the AA should be accepted by the parliament. The AA is fundamental for EU-Ukraine relations and it is important to demonstrate that this kind of instrument works and brings benefits for both sides.

Hakanen: “There is no EU without Ukraine”.