The European Commission today adopted a proposal for temporarily removing customs duties on Ukrainian exports to the EU, as part of a package of measures to help stabilize Ukraine’s economy amid the current crisis. The annual value of this support measure will be nearly €500 million in tariff reductions, of which almost €400m accrue to the agricultural sector, a press release said.
On 6 March, EU Heads of State and Government welcomed the €11 billion package of support to Ukraine presented by the European Commission. “The Commission is moving ahead fast with the implementation of this support package, and today has adopted the first of the foreseen measures – a set of trade provisions that will represent an economic benefit to Ukraine of around €500 million per year. This proposal is a concrete, tangible measure of EU support to Ukraine,” said European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
“The idea is for the EU to open its doors to exports from Ukraine, helping to give a real boost to Ukrainian businesses with a real impact on the daily lives of all Ukrainians,” said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, adding: “With this rapid response, the European Commission has shown it stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine and I would now encourage the European Parliament and the Council to fast track the approval process, so the tariff reductions can be in place by June.”
Once adopted by the EU, the measure will grant autonomous trade preferences to Kyiv, with the EU starting “unilaterally the reduction or elimination of the EU’s customs duties on goods originating in Ukraine.” However, the preferences are not a substitute for the DCFTA and will be granted until 1 November this year. It is expected that the DCFTA between the EU and Ukraine will be signed and provisionally apply before this date, in which case the unilateral system of autonomous trade preferences ends.
This unilateral measure will allow Ukrainian exporters to benefit from preferential access to the EU market in full line with the schedule of concessions negotiated under the DCFTA. Ukraine will not have to provide extra access to EU exports in return. The temporary elimination of the customs duties will be total or partial, depending on the sector. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre – European Commission proposes €11 billion support package to Ukraine (05-03-2014)
The European Union has strongly condemned Russia’s “unprovoked violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity” and called on the immediate withdrawal of its armed forces. “The solution to the crisis in Ukraine must be based on the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as the strict adherence to international standards,” EU leaders said in a statement following the extraordinary meeting of the Union’s heads of state or government yesterday.
The EU leaders consider the decision by Crimea’s Supreme Council to hold a referendum as contrary to the Ukrainian constitution and therefore illegal, the statement said.
The EU has “a special responsibility for peace, stability and prosperity on our continent, and we are ready to take that responsibility. Acts of aggression cannot be without consequences,” said President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy in his remarks after the summit.
“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,” European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said.
In a three-step approach, the EU leaders decided to suspend bilateral talks with Russia on visa matters and talks on the New Agreement, reiterating their support for the decision of the European members of the G8 and the EU institutions to suspend their participation in G8 Summit preparations until further notice.
The solution to the crisis should be found through official negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, including through potential multilateral mechanisms, the leaders underlined. The EU has important relations with both countries and stands ready to engage in the political process, bilaterally as a Union and also in broader multilateral initiatives (contact group), the summit statement said.
If such efforts fails to bring results, the EU will decide on additional measures, such as travel bans, asset freezes and the cancellation of the EU-Russia summit.
Any further steps by Russia to destabilise the situation in Ukraine would lead to “additional and far reaching consequences for relations in a broad range of economic areas,” the EU leaders insisted.
The EU has reiterated the European commitment to signing the Association Agreementwith Ukraine. The leaders decided as a matter of priority to sign the political chapters before the Ukrainian elections of 25 May.
The EU also pledged to provide Ukraine with strong financial backing, stressing the urgent need to restore macro-economic stability. The leaders welcomed the Commission’s proposal for an EU aid package worth €11 billion, Barroso said after the summit.
The leaders also pledged to adopt special trade measures to allow Ukraine to benefit substantially soon from the advantages of the Free Trade Area.
The EU remains committed to the visa liberalisation process, to encouraging contacts between the citizens of the EU and of Ukraine, the statement said, adding the Union also stands ready to assist also on energy security.
The leaders welcomed the decision to freeze and recover misappropriated (or stolen) Ukrainian State assets, taken earlier this week by EU foreign ministers.
“From Ukraine’s side, efforts must continue towards free and fair elections, constitutional reform and the investigation of all acts of violence. The way forward must be one of inclusiveness towards all regions, people and minorities. Fighting corruption and launching wider structural reforms will all be essential,” the statement said. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
Extraordinary summit Statement
Van Rompuy Remarks
Tomorrow at 10am, the EU Delegation in Ukraine is organising a seminar on the current state of EU-Ukraine relations in Ivano-Frankivsk, as part of its “Building Europe in Ukraine” information campaign. The event will be held at the conference hall of the Stanislaviv Hotel.
Experts taking part in the event are:
- Olena Melnyk, Head of the Department of European integration in the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine;
- Maryana Kuzio, project coordinator in the civic initiative “Europe without barriers”;
- Volodymyr Yermolenko, director of EU-related media projects at Internews Ukraine and senior professor of National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, doctor of political studies (EHESS, Paris).
The seminar will address the following questions:
- EU-Ukraine relations in the context of the current social and political situation in Ukraine;
- Non-visa regime with the EU – possibilities and barriers;
- Economic and trade aspects of EU-Ukraine relations. Economic advantages and challenges from signing of the Association Agreement with the EU and their significance for the understanding of the current situation;
- Analysis and refuting of the Association Agreement myths;
- Advice on how to work with EU-related information.
The information campaign Building Europe in Ukraine includes a number of information events, which over the course of one year aim to explain the importance of the signature of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and to raise peoples’ awareness of EU-Ukraine relations. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
EU Delegation publication – Myths about the Association Agreement – setting the facts straight
Full text of EU-Ukraine Association Agreement
Participation of Neighbourhood countries in EU programmes, future prospects, goals, background information and more
Information and presentations on the new programmes that are open to some form of participation by European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries in the period 2014-2020, and the conditions for participation, are now available on the European External Action Service (EEAS) website, following a recent information meeting on the subject.
“Participation of ENP partners in EU programmes and agencies is a means to promote reform and modernisation in the EU’s neighbourhood and strengthen administrative and regulatory convergence of partner countries with the EU,” it is noted on the dedicated webpage.
The programmes – which include flagship initiatives like Erasmus+ (education & youth) and Horizon 2020 (research) – were reviewed in the context of preparing the new EU budget, with a view to launching new programmes for 2014-2020. A number of these programmes offer the possibility of some form of participation of ENP countries, the EEAS adds.
The EEAS and the Directorate General for Development and Cooperation organized the Brussels information meeting, held in December 2013.
The presentations made at the meeting, which include the objectives of each programme, background information, future prospects, links, etc. cover the following:
European Earth Observation Programme
Galileo and EGNOS Programmes
Positioning, Search and Rescue services
Framework Programme for Research and Innovation
Internal Security Fund
Supporting a common visa policy and integrated borders management
Find out more…
EEAS webpage: Boosting participation of ENP countries in EU programmes
EEAS webpage: European Neighbourhood Policy
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre webpage: The ENP
Regional cooperation in the EU Neighbourhood brochure