Archive for December 25th, 2013

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Unlikely options – Splitting the AA/DCFTA

December 25, 2013

About a week ago, when mulling possibilities looking forward for Ukraine, I wroteWould it be too perverse to consider that by applying and implementing that democracy AA framework now to appease the євромайдан movement and dull the subject as an election issue simultaneously, on the back of today’s Russian economic lifeline, circumstance may conspire to lead to a more democratic Ukraine within a Eurasion Union.

Well, unsurprise, unsurprise!  That very possibility of signing up to the Association Agreement relating to democratic European norms, whilst shunning/delaying the DCFTA section with the EU – presumably in favour of the Eurasian Union or the status quo with regard to trade and trade partners, is now being muted by the Ukrainian leadership.

How seriously it is being worked upon, whether in good faith, or in bad faith to buy time and be seen to be doing something “European” in relation to democratic standards etc, is a different matter.

However, going back in time a few years, (and you can’t say I didn’t forecast the current situation we now see back in 2011) the EU made the Association Agreement and DCFTA an inseparable document on the presumption that the feckless Ukrainian leadership would pursue the DCFTA with little intent to follow through on the “political” Association Agreement.  Business and economic interests would see a large degree of actioning by the Ukrainian elite, whilst the “values” would be left aside.

As I suggested then – over 2 years ago – the Eurasian Union spectre loomed far larger than the EU seemed to recognise, and it would perhaps be wise to provide a mechanism to split the AA from the DCFTA, thus allowing one part to progress if the other was blocked.

So, unlikely as it probably seemed to many readers back then, and unlikely as it is that the EU will split off the AA from the DCFTA, now, for obvious domestic reasons, the AA is seemingly the desired protocol – rather than the DCFTA as the EU then feared – for the government at this juncture, according to Speaker Rybak.

Theoretically how does the EU react to reduced interest in the signing of the DCFTA but a continued interest in signing the political, values driven Association Agreement alone?  Will it prevent the possible signing of a values driven agreement over a trade deal it bolted to it?

The EU has always proclaimed that values (AA) were and are the driver.  Євромайдан is about values and not trade.  Nobody is naive enough to believe that signed or not, some immediately mutually beneficial parts of the DCFTA will be accommodated regardless – if quietly.

Naturally, without the DCFTA the EU has far less levers when it comes to the timely adoption and implementation of the AA – at least levers that would have been contained within the DCFTA would be mute.  But it does have other levers should it decide to agree to sign the values driven AA at the temporary – or permanent – expense of the DCFTA.

It would allow the EU to proclaim a values driven AA victory via an internationally recognised political association.  It would allow the Kremlin to proclaim an economics framed victory – the public framing of the Kremlin’s “brotherly concerns” for Ukraine.  It would, to some degree, blunt some painful political issues for the current President from all sides – though perhaps too late in the day.

A much sought “win-win” (though better described as a draw in such circumstances) if the publicly proclaimed drivers of current positions by all sides are indeed the genuine drivers that shape their policy – or even if they’re not.

If only things were as easy as that eh?

(For those who may think that I may have imbibed a little too much Christmas cheer when writing this – well, you may just be right – but it doesn’t make what is written beyond the realms of possibility when options are few.)

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