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Germany soon to ratify the EU AA/DCFTA Agreement with Ukraine?

February 17, 2015

A few days ago, this entry was published relating to the Minsk II Agreement, interpreting it as a declaration of war by other means, rather than a ceasefire or peace agreement.

At the end of the entry appeared this paragraph relating to the AA/DCFTA; “The Kremlin will now be swift to try and unpick these economy transforming and European integrating agreements prior to it coming into force on 1st January 2016.  European political defeat lies in allowing an external 3rd party veto or amendment to a ratified bilateral agreement.  Any such precedent would be a disaster for the EU.”

What was not really touched upon was how easy or difficult that would be – despite it clearly being the Kremlin intent “They also support the trilateral negotiations between the European Union, Ukraine and Russia in order to develop practical solutions to issues of concern to Russia in connection with the implementation of the Agreement on deep and comprehensive free trade zone between Ukraine and the European Union.”

Thus far, the ratified parties to the AA/DCFTA are Ukraine, the EU, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden.  Poland is all but there, although the ratified document has not been deposited to the knowledge of the author at the time of writing – but perhaps it has been.

Noticeable by their absence are the larger EU nations.  Germany, France, the UK etc – as well as others that always appear to be sticklers for rule of law, such as The Netherlands, that seemingly almost always attempt to meet their international obligations with integrity.

With the UK now entering an election cycle, quite when parliamentary time will be found for any ratification remains to be seen, but without some EU heavyweight nations behind it, preferably those recognised for taking seriously their international obligations, The Kremlin may feel it is still capable of unpicking the AA/DCFTA.

It appears however, that Germany is set to ratify the agreement on 27th March.  It may thus make it far more difficult for The Kremlin to undo what has already been ratified amongst those States it may feel it can pressurize into accepting changes.  It would seem somewhat unlikely that Germany would ratify to then immediately accept changes proposed by The Kremlin, instead of accommodating Kremlin changes prior to ratification.

Indeed, the question may be asked, as all leaders like to head to summits, or leave them, having accomplished “something”, just how many nations will ratify the AA/DCFTA prior to the May Riga Summit, swiftly falling in behind Germany in a second wave of agreement ratification.

The more that will ratify, the more difficult the Kremlin task of unpicking the AA/DCFTA beyond the realms of what is considered worthy of the political and diplomatic energy to try.  That said, perhaps in these times of a “hot peace” rather than a “Cold War” with much of the “west”, The Kremlin will consider no effort will be deemed to great?

None of this in any way makes the AA/DCFTA anymore of a panacea, or Utopian easy-fix, for Ukraine – but for a genuinely integrated European economy, there are no easy fixes.  Perhaps Germany ratifying the agreement in the near future will remove any vague – or hopeful – thoughts of the goal posts moving to something “easier” however.

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