Well, with all the bluster and brinkmanship that makes the MSM headlines, we could all be forgiven for thinking that there is no constructive dialogue or movement between the EU and Ukraine.
Of course, more quietly and without the instantly recognisable names, the show goes on. The show goes on because the show must go on.
It is so very rare that there is complete disengagement and that is hardly likely that there will ever be complete disengagement between the EU and Ukraine for so many reasons, it would be pointless to try and list them all. Suffice to say Ukraine provides or poses serious immigration (more as a transit route than domestic population), security and trade issues to name but three from an EU perspective.
Geographically, Ukraine matters to the EU. Geopolitically, the EU has invested far too much effort in the EaP to see the biggest nation involved wander off into the sunset. It may very well be that the EU has no intention of signing or ratifying the Association Agreement whilst the current government is in power and that it will wait for a different government to take power before it does so, but it must also do enough to keep Ukraine anchored in the EU somehow and not allow it to drift back Eastwards.
Common sense when all is said and done.
Thus, whilst the political celebrities and well known names sling mud at each other, the technocrats, diplomats, civil servants and more junior politicians have to quietly remain very much engaged to prevent Ukraine drifting away and the EaP from becoming yet another very expensive EU farce in the near term.
In short, enough has to be done, and minor deals made, to insure the near term issues of the day do not scupper the long term objectives when warmer political climates may present themselves.
As is always the case, in order to keep an empirical eye on those many small and individually weak, but accumulatively strong threads being cast in both directions, we must look past the MSM headlines and bluster to find the important work of the boys and girls in the boiler rooms of the EU and Ukraine that get little attention.
This can take the form of small deals here and there, or formal meetings that generally won’t get any MSM attention, such as the meeting last week between European Trade Minister Karl De Gucht and Ukraine’s Economic Development & Trade Minister Petro Poroshenko.
In a nutshell, at this meeting the EU noted positive changes in Ukraine with regards to deregulation in the business environment. The end result being that on Ukrainian invitation, the European Commission will participate in a platform unimaginatively named “Dialogue on the business climate.” The purpose of this platform is to make thorough assessments that are occurring in the Ukrainian business climate, from issues such as deregulation to public procurement procedures.
On its own, it is a weak link. However, when added to about fifty existing other strands (of varying strength) it becomes somewhat more robust and far easier to keep direct, quiet and meaningful dialogue going, whilst the headliners put on a completely different show for the MSM.
Keep your eyes on the linage ads and small print as well as the MSM headlines for a more wholesome view of this relationship as it is the long term issues and not today’s headlines that really matter. The issues of today will pass sooner or later. The major long term issues and dilemmas that Ukraine presents to the EU have not changed at all.