Ursula von der Leyen handed over to the President of Ukraine a document characterizing the second part of Kyiv’s answers to the questions of the European Commission for Ukraine to obtain the status of an EU candidate
This year should be the time when there will be no obstacles to start negotiations on Ukraine’s full membership in the EU. This was stated by President Volodymyr Zelensky on February 2, speaking in Kyiv at a joint meeting of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers and the Board of the European Commission.
“Ukraine and the European Union are no longer separate subjects of European life. Our values are shared. Our destiny is common. Our enemy is a common one. Our defense is common. This means that our life is united,” the leader of Ukraine said.
He said that the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, handed over to him a report on the second part of Ukraine’s answers to the questions of the European Commission, posed in order to determine Ukraine’s progress on the path of European integration.
“This report contains a detailed analysis of the state of the regulatory and legal approach of our state to the acts of the law of the European Union. But it is also, I think, and somewhat more. This is a symbol of the fact that the goal of a full-fledged unification of Ukraine and the European Union has already turned into concrete, practical and fairly quick work at your level, Mr. Prime Minister, at the level of officials,” Zelensky stressed.
The President of Ukraine said that on the basis of this report, the government of the country will begin a meaningful self-assessment of “where we are already quite close, and where we still need and need to work.”
Zelensky noted that an updated Plan of priority measures has been developed to strengthen the implementation of a deep and comprehensive free trade area for the next two years: “This is a further integration of the sectors of the economy of Ukraine and the EU market. That is, “industrial visa-free travel”, Ukraine’s accession to the EU roaming space, further transport and trade liberalization, as well as other quite practical things.”
Ursula von der Leyen noted that the visit of the European Commission delegation to Kyiv will be devoted, in particular, to the future of Ukraine in the European Union.
“Almost a year has passed since Putin made a brutal invasion of Ukraine. But it was the year of the legendary courage of the Ukrainians, which the whole world knows about, and the exceptional unity of the world community. Europe has been close to Ukraine since the first day, because we know that the future of our continent is determined in Ukraine. You are fighting not only for yourself, but also for much more – for the freedom of the European continent,” said the head of the European Commission.
Von der Leyen stressed that one of the most important tasks today is to ensure the economic security of Ukraine, stable and predictable financial support.
She recalled that two weeks ago, the first tranche of EU macro-financial assistance to Ukraine was received, providing for the allocation of 18 billion euros in 2023.
Von der Leyen tweeted that her current visit to Ukraine is the fourth since the start of Russian aggression. She added that she arrived with a team of EU commissioners: the 24th Ukraine-European Union summit will be held in Kyiv on February 3.
As Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal emphasized, speaking at a joint meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Board of the European Commission, over the past year Ukraine has made significant progress on the issue of European integration, as well as on the path to implementing related reforms.
Ukraine joined ENTSO-E, quotas and duties on Ukrainian goods were abolished, transportation was liberalized, “customs visa-free”, accession to the Digital Europe program, candidate status was obtained, hundreds of laws and government acts aimed at rapprochement with the EU, reminds portal of the government of Ukraine.
“In order to achieve the next European integration steps, we are completing the implementation of 7 recommendations of the European Commission. We are preparing to present the results at the Ukraine-EU summit and expect a strong political signal regarding the approach to the beginning of the negotiation process on membership,” the head of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers explained.
At a cabinet meeting on January 13, Shmygal said that Ukraine hopes to go all the way to joining the European Union in less than two years.
According to RBC-Ukraine, the Ukrainian Prime Minister stressed that the country will prepare for direct negotiations on EU accession in parallel with the assessment of conformity, adoption and implementation of European legislation.
Corruption investigation on the eve of the Ukraine-EU summit
On the Facebook website on February 1, the SBU reported that it had exposed large-scale schemes for embezzlement of 40 billion hryvnia [about one billion dollars at the commercial rate] by the former management of PJSC Ukrnafta and PJSC Ukrtatnafta.
According to the Ukrainian press, on February 1, searches were carried out at the home of businessman Ihor Kolomoisky, former Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, head of a department in the Ministry of Defense Bogdan Khmelnytsky, and Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, who was arrested on February 2 for two months with the right to post a bail of 402 million hryvnias.
UNIAN also notes that the State Bureau of Investigation has reported suspicions against Igor Nasalyk, the former head of the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine, whose official negligence led to budget losses of almost UAH 1.5 billion in favor of one of the gas oligarchs.
Russian aggression united Ukraine and the European Union
Valeriy Dymov , Director of the Forum Center for Public Information Technologies , states that Russia’s aggression today has united Ukrainian society on the prospects for Ukraine’s accession to the European Union and NATO.
“We are much closer in our prospects to the EU than a year ago. In the same way, the West finally realized that its policy, in public statements, at the political level, of containing and appeasing Russia about not provoking it in connection with the possible entry of Ukraine into the EU was wrong,” Dymov told the correspondent of the Russian service “Voices America.”
He also noted that the insufficient fight against corruption in Ukraine is one of those problems that hinder movement in the EU.
“For example, against the candidacy for EU membership, there were warnings for Ukraine from Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands – countries that are leaders in anti-corruption activities. They said that the anti-corruption fight should be implemented not at the level of words, but actions. This led to a breakthrough, for example, in the appointment of a special anti-corruption prosecutor, who could not be appointed for six months,” Valery Dymov believes.
Personnel purge, according to Valery Dymov, which is written about in the Ukrainian press, indicates the need to actively fight corruption in the country.
The political scientist emphasizes that Putin, with his aggression, went his own way, uniting Ukrainians and the West, the task of Ukraine is to consolidate European aspirations with real actions.
“When Ukraine says that we have gone our own way and there is homework, the authorities forget that the Ukrainians have gone and are going through the path in the fight against Russia, and the tasks are before the authorities. And let them not confuse their pocket with the state,” says Dymov.
Legal basis for European integration
Olga Skripnik , head of the Crimean Human Rights Group , notes that the legal process of joining the European Union takes several years.
“It is objective, legally necessary to go through all the procedures within the framework of the agreement with the EU itself. There are several priorities in this process, which are indicated in the relevant agreements with the European Union.
Among the key ones are the judicial reform and the question of the constitutional court, the independence of the judiciary. These reforms will be key, and the European Union will closely monitor them,” Olga Skripnik explains.
An effective anti-corruption policy, according to her, is also one of the key issues that need to be addressed in order to join the European Union.
“It will be an important issue for the EU to overcome all anti-corruption risks, which, unfortunately, are many. We see some personnel changes, which indicate that even during the war we cannot overcome corruption,” the expert states.
She also emphasizes that the reform of the ombudsman institution remains a very important issue in the field of human rights activities.
“It is very important for Ukraine to move from political quotas to a real transparent policy of election to this position with the involvement of the human rights environment,” Skrypnyk notes.