The bitter recurrence behind EU-Ukraine Association Agreement

External Relations

On 16th September the European Parliament and Ukraine’s Rada ratified the bilateral Association Agreement in a spectacular parallel session. Among its provisions, the Agreement strengthens bilateral dialogues and deepens cooperation in several domains (as transport and energy), while also binding Kiev towards a more stable path on internal liberalisations and rule of law reinforcement. Moreover, the decision was foremost widely welcomed due to its symbolic value, as it appears to be the finishing line of last year’s negotiations, whose stalemate eventually led to the outbreak of a crisis that still counts more than 2.600 victims and a dramatic territorial fragmentation. Yet, on the same day, the EU, Ukraine and Russia issued a joint ministerial statement announcing the postponement of the Deep and Comprehensive Free-Trade Agreement implementation to December 2015, and stressed the importance of similar agreements with Russia. The deferment is of course necessary to favour the de-escalation process between Kiev and the armed opposition around Luhansk and Donetsk, including full-compliance with the cease-fire and the additional provisions of the “Minsk Protocol”. Only its full implementation will disclose if the current juncture – very far from being a major gain for the EU – will justify the “reversible” but harsh sanctions regime and determine a lasting stabilization and fruitful dialogue over Ukraine’s disputed territories.

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