NOTES ON THE RELATIONS BETWEEN THE EU AND UKRAINE AND THE PROGRESS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT
The 2014 Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine, which replaces the 1994 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, may be considered the most important result of a cooperation developed since the beginning of 90’s, first in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy, then of the Eastern Partnership.
This paper analyses in an essential way the evolving relations between the EU and Ukraine, and the progress made by Ukraine in pursuing the objectives set forth in the Association Agreement. The Author considers the main features of the Agreement, and identifies and assesses the principal legal issues arising from its implementation. The Agreement is aimed at deepening political and economic relations between the EU and Ukraine, and to gradually integrate Ukraine into the EU internal market. It is the first of a new generation of EU agreements characterized by comprehensiveness, and democratic conditionality. It requires a broad and detailed work of approximation of the Ukrainian laws to the EU regulations. Reforms are foreseen in a number of key areas. Ukraine has been developing a complex strategy to reorient its legal system towards the EU. According to the 2018 Report on Implementation of the Association Agreement – prepared by the Government Office for Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, and the Vice Prime Minister’s Office for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, based on the outcome of performance of the objectives scheduled for 2018, the Agreement was implemented by 52%. According to the Author, in evaluating the “results achieved” by Ukraine in the approximation of the national legislation to the EU legislation, it must be taken into account the challenging situation of the country. The Government and the Verkhovna Rada have been acting with the aim to pursue the overall objectives of the Association Agreement notwithstanding the difficult political and administrative situation following the events in Crimea, the Donbass conflict, the worsening of the relations with Russia until the termination of the Treaty of Friendship and the temporary adoption of the Martial Law. He highlights the efforts of the EU in financially supporting the process of reform in Ukraine, and of Ukraine towards constitutional and legislative reforms reinforcing the European choice. Ukraine has finally developed an ad hoc institutional framework, and new legislation, including amendments to the Constitution, for the implementation of the Association Agreement. Relevant progress has been made in various sectors of the cooperation, while in various others the actions taken are not yet effective. For example, in the sector of the rule of law, various actions were taken, but modest results were achieved in the fight against corruption; while in the environment sector, which is not considered among the priorities, the Law on EIA might be considered an important achievement. In the whole, the implementation of the Association Agreement was evaluated positively at the highest level of political dialogue, by the 20th EU-Ukraine Summit (9 July 2018), and the 5th EU-Ukraine Association Council (Brussels, 17 December 2018). In the Аuthor’s opinion, notwithstanding various critical points, the numerous constitutional and legislative acts, the regulations and the plans adopted in the period 2014–2018, represent important steps of a broad process of change. He underlines the importance to proceed focusing not just on the formal harmonization of the Ukrainian legal system to the EU law, but on the effectiveness and efficacy of the new rules, and their real implications on the social, economic, political and cultural heritage and life of people.
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