The original article Ricarda of Jozwiak 112.international
The summit Ukraine – EU has brought very little results, but promised a lot, including the agreement on visa liberalization by the end of the year. These promises may be fulfilled, but may be empty depending on the state of Affairs in the European Union in the coming months.
I and many EU diplomats with whom I spoke after the summit in Brussels on 24 November, of the opinion that perhaps the most significant outcome of this meeting was that it ever happened. This may sound funny, but as one senior EU diplomat told me: “don’t underestimate the importance of what they’re all gathered.”
The summit was held in may, but in connection with the change of government in Ukraine and uncertainty that prevailed in the EU this year, the meeting took place just now. The fact that the presidents of all three institutions, and several commissioners attended a meeting with the President of Ukraine and the team of Ministers, should be interpreted as a sign that Brussels is still “cares about Ukraine.” But I’m not sure that’s true.
Ukraine no longer occupies a Central place in the agenda in Brussels. Actually, she’s not even close to the leading position in this agenda. The immigration crisis, terrorism, a British exit from the European Union, economic difficulties and the impact of the upcoming presidency of the trump – all of which now makes the Eurocrats very busy. And very anxious. But in addition, it also makes the EU more vulnerable than ever. And coming elections in France and Germany next year, as well as in the Netherlands and perhaps Italy. In these countries, populists who want to get rid of the EU or parts of it, have a good chance. This also explains why so little has been promised in Brussels during yesterday’s summit Ukraine – EU. Tusk, Juncker and Schultz just looking in a very uncertain, but perhaps even a bright future for his unit.
There were pledges that the EU will do everything possible to liberalise the visa regime for Ukraine as soon as possible. Juncker said that he was “convinced” that the differences that exist between the countries-EU members and between the Council and the European Parliament will be resolved before the end of the year. Tusk was more cautious and added that he “hopes that this process will be completed this year, and it seems to be realistic and there is reason for cautious optimism.”
But doubts persist. It is not excluded that France does not want to move forward on the issue of the suspension mechanism bezveza before the presidential elections, scheduled in spring 2017. Agreement on the mechanism for suspending the visa-free regime will be a signal that the EU is ready to offer Turkey the abolition of visas. This decision upset most of the French electorate. Simply put: fear of the triumph of marine Le Pen in may is very real in Brussels. And if that happens, there will be no more sanctions against Russia, neither the Schengen area nor possibly the EU itself.
The decision of EU ambassadors last week about the readiness to start negotiations with the European Parliament on visa liberalisation for Ukraine was only trying to reassure Kiev and offer at least something.
But the most difficult obstacle is the suspension mechanism bezveza – still to be overcome. The negotiations will be tense in the run up to Christmas, and it is possible that an agreement will be reached, however, the actual implementation will be in the spring.
So the EU leaders also said that they hope that economic sanctions against Russia will be extended at the EU summit on 15-16 December in Brussels. At the moment it looks real, but in the current environment of uncertainty you can never be too sure. Italy may Express objections, the outgoing President Barack Obama will not be able to exert pressure on Europe, as he had done before.
At the same meeting in December, EU leaders also hope that will be legally binding, which will enable the Netherlands to ratify the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU. This is another promise for Poroshenko, but it, like all the others above, remain uncertain at this stage.
The Dutch will require a number of safeguards and, according to some diplomats of the EU, 27 countries-members of EU will agree with these proposals. In particular, the formulation on the relationship between the Association Agreement and possible future EU membership for Ukraine will become a stumbling block. The Netherlands would like to right there would exclude a possibility of Ukraine’s membership in the European Union.
What exactly was decided at yesterday’s summit in Brussels?
The parties confirmed their agreement of 120 million euros to support the reform of public administration. The agreement was signed on the allocation of 15 million euros to support anti-corruption initiatives in Ukraine. The money will go to anti-corruption bodies to investigate, prosecute and punish corrupt officials.
The third concrete solution at the summit was the signing of the Memorandum on strategic partnership in the energy sector. But there’s no promises about any investment in energy infrastructure from the EU, but only the proposal of Brussels to help Ukraine with such things as energy diversification and the development of renewable sources of energy. The most important aspect of the Memorandum that Ukraine remains a key energy partner for the EU and, perhaps more importantly, a key energy transit country. This all sounds very good for Kiev, but the problem is that actually in practice it means nothing. Several EU diplomats have said that Ukraine may gradually lose the status of transit country, if Germany agrees to the construction of “Nord stream II”, which will supply Russian gas directly to Western European market, bypassing not only Ukraine but also the Baltic States and Poland. The European Commission is not very interested in the project, but the question is whether it has enough power to stop him. In this, as in many other issues concerning relations between Ukraine and the EU, uncertainty is likely to persist for some time.
In addition, they discussed new gas talks between the EU, Ukraine and Russia in order to define a new winter package, similar to those that worked the previous two winters.
The European Commissioner for energy Maros, Seferovic arrived in Moscow on 25 November, to get an idea about how the Russian side sees the situation. EU officials say that in this context there is a desire to conclude a new agreement. Memories of the gas shortage in Eastern Europe a few winters ago is still preserved. So Brussels is eager to show concerned member States that it can handle at least that. So expect some momentum in the coming days and weeks in the tripartite negotiations in Brussels or in another city on the eve of Christmas.
The next summit will be held in 2017 in Ukraine. Remains to be seen what the promised at the summit have turned into concrete results.