The Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU. The European “carte blanche”: what next?

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2014/08/15 • Politics

We have always been part of Europe. Some people say that back when democratic principles of development were only being laid down in Europe, the main principles of constitutional democracy had already been formed in Ukraine.

Today, Ukraine has proven its European choice yet again.

We are born European

We honored democracy when Crimea was taken away from us and thought it possible to talk to those who held a sword behind their backs and who were later dubbed “separatists.” Democracy has power when everyone preaches it to the same extent. It cannot be limitless for some and limited for others. According to Václav Havel, “Democracy ties the hands of those who respect it, and allows almost anything to those who do not.”

We stand for the lustration of those who decide our fate from above. However we make do with those who are ruining our souls from the inside. Nobody is talking about lustration in the educational sphere, wherein school principles have been in charge since the Soviet times and university deans have held their posts for over 30 years, and thus, science, which has already turned into an aging ruin, services everything but the needs of its own country…

This is why we have to make every decision with regard to the state of Ukraine, its people, the future of its nation.

The next step should be taken by Europe. As observations show, the number of pro-Russian sympathizers is not decreasing in Europe, on the contrary – the discontent is growing that postponing the solution to the Ukrainian issue might put everyone in a dead-end. And the further they go, the more conflicts will escalate. European politicians are already giving ambiguous evaluations regarding the Association Agreement and Free Trade Zone with the EU, as well as the sanctions against the Russian Federation.

Europe, like Russia, is really losing a lot. The European Union is Russia’s biggest partner in trade (over 50% of the Russian goods circulation), as well as the biggest investor – up to 80% of direct investments into Russia come from European Union member countries. Besides, hard times await Europe itself. The majority of European countries have already entered the recession phase. Execution of the EU-Russia initiative “Partnership for modernization” that aimed to develop business cooperation in the interests of modernization between Russia and the European Union are no less important for Russia and that the FTZ and Association Agreements are for Ukraine. Modernization is the key to the future. Essentially, Ukraine and Russia are competing in producing many types of produce and the issue of modernizing the country’s industry is an issue of future competitive abilities. So, just like for Ukraine, relations with the European Union are strategic for Russia. And it is not sitting idle and waiting while the US and the EU impose additional sanctions.

Synchronous ratification

Ukraine and the EU both have to speed up the process of ratifying the Association Agreement. I am very afraid that we will do everything, as usual, and some European countries will try to put off the process until fall or later. This cannot be allowed to happen.

We have to ask the signees, the EU member countries, to ratify it before September 15. To my mind, the longer it takes, the more countries there will be who won’t ratify it. Then this entire “parade” will amount to nothing. Ukraine has proven its Europeanness. Now let the European Union do its part for “United Europe.”

Besides, the Agreement is enacted on the first day of the second month after the last ratification certificate or the last approval document is handed in for archiving. Therefore, if some country ratifies it within a year, the last ratification document will reach the General Secretariat of the EU Council after the ratification in this country.

Europeans forever

Ukraine is not joining the European Union, but only signing and association agreement and is not delegating any part of its sovereignty to Brussels.

At the moment, there is still the Agreement on partnership and cooperation between Ukraine on one part and European communities and their member countries, on the other, which was made in the city of Luxembourg on June 14, 1994, and which was enacted on March 1, 1998. This agreement, together with its protocols, loses its power starting the date of the ratification of the new Agreement.

The Ukrainian FTZ with the EU is also not something that can be done within a day, it will be created gradually throughout the interim period of 10 years at the most, starting with the date the Association Agreement becomes valid. The sides gradually create the free trade zone throughout the interim period, which does not surpass 10 years, starting the date the Agreement becomes valid, according to the protocol of this Agreement and article 26 of the General agreement on tariffs and trade of 1994.

The agreement does not preemptively define and leaves room for the development of Ukraine-EU relations.

The sides may amend this Agreement by making individual agreement in any industry that falls under its sphere of influence. Such individual agreements are an integral part of bilateral relations in general, which are regulated by this Agreement, and constitute part of the general institutional basis of cooperation.

During the period of ratification, the EU could at least partially solve the issue of visa-free travel.

Back in the day, a great member of the Ukrainian nation Mykhailo Hrushevsky said: “If we, the Ukrainians, want other nations to respect us, we have to start with respecting ourselves.” We really do need to learn to respect ourselves and believe in ourselves. We have to show to the world that we are not some backwards nation, we are European in the literal sense of the word and we want to be seen and regarded as equals – no more and no less.

Bohdan Danylyshyn, European Institute of Economic and Political Investigation, Prague

Source: Radio Liberty

Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina

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