Archive for March 24th, 2014

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What was actually signed? EU and Ukraine

March 24, 2014

A couple of days ago I raised the question of what could possibly go wrong relating to the signing of the political Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine.

What I didn’t actually state was what – specifically – has been signed between the two parties.

Firstly the preamble was signed.  Thereafter Article I, Article II and Article VII  were signed.  That is it.  No more.

All other Articles of the Association Agreement remain unsigned.

None of these Articles – signed or otherwise – are likely to be ratified by anybody until elections returning unquestioned legitimacy to the Ukrainian political class have taken place – both presidential and parliamentary.  That being so, all outstanding Articles are likely to be signed only once those legitimacy issues have been dealt with.

Thus the document ratification in its entirety – and therefore having full legal force and unambiguous obligations for both parties – seems unlikely to occur much before the year end.  And that time scale is on the presumption that all EU Member States provide a legislative slot to ratify the document in their busy domestic affairs.

Naturally the symbolic nature of the signature, the commitment to political direction are there to be seen – perhaps necessarily so in the circumstances Ukraine finds itself within.  Of course everybody wants to be seen to be doing something – the question is whether there is actually anything sensible that can be done now?  It will appear that “form” remains far greater than legally binding “substance” to many.  Is that sensible?

You cannot help but feel that the current interim Ukrainian government and media are being somewhat disingenuous regarding just how robust this legal anchor to the EU actually is.  A particularly dangerous thing to do considering continued public anger and distrust toward the political class.  The truth will certainly “out” prior to any elections and the damage to certain candidates and/or parties may lead to some very unpredictable and possibly volatile public reactions.

Only one nation stands to gain from that scenario – and that nation is not Ukraine.

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