Archive for May 16th, 2013


European Commission takes the next step in allowing for Ukrainian Association

May 16, 2013

Not at all surprisingly, on Wednesday 15th May, the European Commission took the necessary steps to draw up the documentation allowing for the Commission and Member States to sign the Association Agreement (and DCFTA) during the Vilnius Summit in November.

Such things do indeed take time when 28 nations have to agree to every word, phrase and punctuation mark on any document such as this.  Failing to do this now, and still have all national capitals agree with what is stated in time for November, would be something of an ask considering just how unwieldy the EU machinery is.

Naturally Ukraine is nowhere near dealing with all the issues that the EU institutions have demanded – but it has made some progress and may possibly address in their entirety, or significantly advance, many if not all of them prior to Vilnius in November – possibly to a degree where signing could be accomplished.

That is not withstanding the media headline issue of Ms Tymoshenko, who looks set to still be in prison by November.

The question is really whether the issue surrounding her will prevent any signing.

It is, after all, not that the EU or its Member States consider her innocent – nobody has commented on her guilt or innocence (officially) – but an issue of “selectivity”.

Now, there are those within the EU who feel that the Tymoshenko issue should not prevent the signing of this document – particularly given the year or two (minimum) it will take to ratify throughout all Member States – and thus a political lever of “ratification” can still be used against Kyiv over the Tymoshenko issue.

For example, it is becoming quite clear that influential States such as Poland and Sweden want the agreement signed whether Ms Tymoshenko is in jail or not – and it seems their lobbying on this issue is having some effect in Berlin over recent weeks.

There is also the old problem of interests verses values to consider – and with almost all EU economies in recession once more – and Germany only posting a +0.1% growth rate for the first quarter of 2013, opening up parts of the DCFTA on the basis of a signed agreement (if not ratified) will not do Europe any harm when it comes to easier trade and lower customs tariffs, thus increasing access and lowering prices respectively, with 46 million potential customers.

Will EU economic interests trump EU values as far as Ms Tymoshenko is concerned – even for a percentage point bump in economic fortune?

Is Berlin’s apparent softening due to Swedish and Polish lobbying, or the dire current German economic growth rate – or both?

Will Berlin actually soften enough to allow the signing by November – and how will the German elections in September change matters if at all?

There are also two sides to every “values” coin.  Should Ukraine as a nation be held at arms length over the singular issue of Ms Tymoshenko where it seems likely little progress will be made?  Will the Ukrainian public turn its back on the EU if that happens, considering themselves abandoned by the EU?  What of all the millions of Ukrainians who believe her guilty regardless of the standard of the trial or the selectivity of the prosecution?  The mass mobilisation of the public in her support has been noticeable by its absence.

Even the Untied Opposition, UDAR and Svoboda make only scant reference to her these days – albeit with on eye on the presidential election horizon, one suspects they would see her release as something of a fly in their ointment for several reasons.

It really is quite tough to call regarding the signing – or not – of these documents.  At the moment I am inclined to say they won’t get signed, although it would not take much to tip me over to a more positive view – and if 24 hours is said to be a long time in politics, then 6 months hence is  still too hard to forecast.

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