Tag Archive: Ukraine

The EU’s Proposed Trade Deal With Ukraine

The newly proposed EU Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine is aimed at establishing political association and economic integration. It is expected to replace the 1998 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement as a basis for bilateral relations. However, tough admission standards could keep Ukraine’s trade integration with the European Union on hold. If the process is dragged out long enough, Ukraine may be forced back into the arms of its ex-Soviet ally, Russia.

European Union ministers will meet on November 18 to decide if Kiev has met enough of the criteria to sign the dotted line on its trade association agreement. 

The Ukrainian government approved their draft resolution on September 18 and the agreement will either get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Lithuania on November 28-29. 

If the EU officials reject Ukraine from their trade association, Kiev will need to reconsider Moscow’s proposal to join the Russia-led Customs Union. Russian President Vladimir Putin has tirelessly tried to convince Ukraine to join Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and other former Soviet nations in a trade bloc that will rival the EU.

Ukraine is facing its most important economic crossroads since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is caught between two stools – it wants to move towards integration with the west, but doing so is irritating Russia, which imports nearly 25 percent of Ukraine’s export goods.

Russia is Ukraine’s main source of energy, loans, and trade and it wants to dissuade its geographical partner from making what it considers a suicide move towards Europe.  Instead, Russian Prime Minister Putin does not want Ukraine to sacrifice the option of joining Russia’s customs union.

Specifically, Russia has made it clear there will be no ‘bridge’ if Ukraine steps West and they will give up their ‘exclusive relationship’ with Russia.  But if Kiev fails to sign an EU association agreement, Russia could launch a multi-billion dollar joint project with Ukraine aimed at diversifying the country’s economy.

The European Union’s Fight for LGBT Rights in Partner Countries

On October 2, 2013, Nick Westcott, the European Union’s most senior official in charge with relations in Africa, proclaimed the European Union should stop lecturing Africa about gay rights.  Westcott believes the European Union needs to be understanding of Africa’s cultural differences.  When asked to elaborate on cultural issues at a debate in Brussels about European Union foreign policy, Westcott stated “We can lecture about lesbian, gays and bisexuals until the cows come home. And it will have a wholly counterproductive effect on our usefulness in Africa. We need to focus on fundamental values.”

Protecting the rights of the LGBT community is a fundamental value of the European Union.  Westcott’s stance on how to handle gay rights in Africa is contrary to the European Union’s overall foreign policy on the rights of gays and lesbians in partner countries.  Article 21 of the the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.The principle of equal treatment is a fundamental value for the European Union, which is going to great lengths to combat homophobia and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In July 2012, the European Parliament released a resolution to help combat violence against lesbian women and the rights of the LGBT community in Africa.  In July 2013, the European Parliament submitted another resolution condemning a law passed by Nigeria that criminalizes not only same-sex marriage, but those who fail to denounce them. Even more than that, the law made it illegal to show a public display of affection to someone of the same sex.

The European Union’s fight for LGBT rights also extends to other parts of the world.  The European Union recently condemned Serbia’s ban  of a gay pride parade for the third consecutive year.  They have also condemned the Ukraine for its new laws banning propaganda of homosexuality, and threatened the Ukraine’s ties to the European Union because of it.  It appears Westcott’s opinion on how to handle LGBT rights in Africa is not the majority view of the European Union.

Possible EU Deal With Ukraine Upsets Russia

This November, Ukraine and the European Union have plans to sign a free-trade and political association agreement. Russia, however, seeks instead to lure Kiev into a Moscow-led economic union. This past weekend, Russia has upped the pressure it exhibited on the Ukraine over the summer by banning the products of a major confectionary maker in Russia.  This banning has temporarily halted some Ukrainian imports at its border, dealing a painful blow to Ukrainian business.

On Saturday, September 20, 2013, a top Russian official warned Ukraine against signing the landmark trade and cooperation agreement with the European Union, saying Moscow would retaliate with trade restrictions that could push this ex-Soviet republic toward default. Earlier that week, at a conference in the Black Sea city of Yalta, Russian presidential adviser Sergei Glazyev dismissed the benefits of the planned free-trade deal between the EU and Ukraine as “mythology.” He warned that the tariffs and trade checks that Russia would impose after the deal could cost Ukraine billions of dollars and result in a default. Russians say they fear its market could be flooded by competitive EU goods entering Ukraine free of import duties and being re-exported across the long border with Russia.

In response, European Union officials have urged Kiev to implement the key reforms and sign the EU deal in November, saying Ukraine belongs with the West. The key obstacle to the deal is the incarceration of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whose verdict the West has condemned as politically motivated. Western governments are pressing hard for her release.

Ukraine’s Envy: The Process to Join the European Union

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych recently took his country’s plea to join the European Union to a worldwide platform. On August 25, he wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Wall Street Journal. The article, which focused on the economic and political history of the country, advocated for Ukraine’s admission into the European Union.

Unfortunately for President Yanukovych, Ukraine is more than one persuasive article away from joining the European Union. The Treaty on European Union (TEU) does not foreclose the idea of enlargement. Membership in the European Union results from a process that requires the participation of Member States, the European Commission, and prospective Member States. In fact, the TEU specifies conditions , known as the “Copenhagen Criteria” and a brief outline of the required steps a country must take in order to be considered for membership.

Potential candidates are those countries that have not yet met the Copenhagen Criteria. Countries classified as candidates are in the process of ensuring their laws and regulations align with those of the European Union. As the European Commission identifies countries that are nearing the requirements for entry, the countries are reclassified from “potential candidates” to “candidate countries.”

At this time, Ukraine is not listed as a potential candidate. This means that the European Commission is not persuaded Ukraine exhibits the fundamental values held by the citizens of the European Union. The methodical approach to enlargement ensures that there is mutual respect for the overarching values protected by the European Union, which can be found in Article 6 of the TEU. President Yanukovych needs to first assuage any concerns that the governmental values of Ukraine fail to align with those espoused in the TEU before he can expect to represent Ukraine on the European Council.

The European Commission has a thorough website that explains the process of application for EU membership in more detail.


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