Ukraine-EU Association takes full effect

Ukraine-EU Association takes full effect

Ukraine-EU Association takes full effect

The Ukraine-EU Association Agreement takes full effect today, “an exceptionally important stage in bilateral relations,” Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said on his Facebook page. The Free Trade Area has been in effect for more than a year and a half, he said, during which the EU has become Ukraine’s main trading partner, making up 41% of Ukraine’s foreign trade. In 1H17, exports of goods and services to the EU grew 22.8% yoy, reaching USD 9.4 bln.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, issued a statement today congratulated the Ukrainian people for their efforts to achieve the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement. “I thank all those who made it possible: those who stood on the Maidan and those who are working hard to reform the country for the better. This is a day of celebration for our European continent,” Juncker said.

The Ukraine-EU Association Agreement was signed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in June 2014 after it was rejected in November 2013 by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, an event that triggered the EuroMaidan revolt. In April 2016, Dutch citizens voted to reject the agreement, forcing EU leaders to find a compromise to satisfy its opponents in a separate addition to the document. However, experts said that most of the compromise points were already address in the agreement. It was finally ratified on July 11, 2017 by the EU Council after getting approval from all member-states.

Zenon Zawada, Concorde Capital: The biggest benefit from the Association Agreement will be Ukraine’s gradual adoption of judiciary standards that will introduce rule of law to a country where it’s almost non-existent. This lack of rule of law has made Ukraine a very difficult place to invest and do business. The agreement consists of specific targets that will have to be implemented within a specific timetable. The agreement will also introduce higher standards to many other spheres of Ukrainian life, ranging from food safety to the banking sphere.

Legislating these standards won’t be nearly as difficult as finding the political will to enforce them. So far, President Poroshenko has demonstrated a lack of political will to introduce and enforce European standards to Ukrainian institutions, particularly the judiciary, which remains infected with corruption. So while the EU standards may be codified into law in the coming years, they won’t be felt by Ukrainians on a tangible basis for another decade. But at least the Ukrainian public got the ball rolling with their successful EuroMaidan revolt.

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