Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine Hugues Mingarelli says that the EU will have to find the ways to implement the Association Agreement with Ukraine, in particular, a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), irrespective of a decision to be taken by the Dutch leadership following a consultative referendum on the ratification of the agreement, according to the Ukraine Away information and analytical journal.
”Whatever decision is made by the Dutch political leadership, we will have to find the ways to implement the content of the Association Agreement, and in particular – a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area agreed between the EU and Ukraine. And we will find the way. The political will on the EU side to implement the content of this agreement is there, the Ukrainian side is also determined to implement it,” Mingarelli told Ukraine Away in an exclusive interview published on Wednesday, November 2.
The EU Delegation`s head assured that the EU member states are united in assisting Ukraine.
”My feeling is that all 28 EU Member States are united when it comes to helping Ukraine,” Mingarelli said when asked if there is the anti-Ukrainian lobby in the EU, as some EU countries occasionally express views that differ from the EU`s general line towards Ukraine.
”The Association Agreement has been ratified by 27 member states – this shows that most all of them want to move ahead into deepening the relations between Ukraine and the EU. And when it comes to providing assistance to Ukraine, I have never heard any objection from an EU Member State,” he said.
Speaking about the introduction of EU visa-free travel expected by Ukrainians in November, the EU Delegation`s head said he hoped it would happen as quickly as possible and explained the cause behind its rescheduling.
”In spring 2016 the European Commission assessed that Ukraine had fulfilled all its commitments regarding the visa liberalization action plan and met 150 benchmarks. Taking this into account, the Commission recommended lifting visas for short-term travel for Ukrainian citizens. This proposal now is in the hands of two EU co-legislators, namely, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, which will have to adopt a decision lifting visas. However, due to the factors which are not related to Ukraine, a decision of visa-free is delayed since the EU Member States and the European Parliament first want to agree on the horizontal suspension mechanism, which will be applied to all existing visa-free agreements,” he said.
Mingarelli praised Ukraine for the fulfilment of its commitments related to visa liberalization. ”Ukraine has done its work,” he added.
He also mentioned Ukraine`s anti-corruption achievements. ”The fact that a number of new anti-corruption bodies have been established and an electronic assets declaration system has been put in place and is functioning is a serious achievement,” he said.
Further, he listed other achievements by Ukraine.
”There is a new law on a civil service, human rights action plan has been adopted, the Constitution has been amended to allow the reform of the judiciary; in the energy sector a new law has been adopted to establish an independent energy regulator and the law on the electricity market is being discussed in Rada too. In short, a lot has been done,” he said.
However, in his words, there is still a lot of work ahead. ”And we have to make sure that Ukrainian authorities do not backtrack on the reforms that already have been adopted,” he added.
The pending EU-Ukraine Summit, which will take place in Brussels on November 24, will be used to ”take the stock off what has been achieved over the last two years in terms of reforms,” he said.
”They [EU and Ukrainian leaders] will as well look at the next steps in reforms and the EU`s support to them, they will discuss the situation in the east of Ukraine and a number of regional issues,” he described the agenda of the summit.