EU to helps increase resilience of Ukraine’s East and South amid pandemic

The 22nd EU-Ukraine Summit in Brussels ended with the signing of six joint agreements and the assurances from European leaders that the EU supports Ukraine’s aspirations as regards the Association Agreement and implementation of reforms on the way toward association. Read on for more details.

“Nothing poses threat to the visa-free regime,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said after the summit.

Putting the matter of visa-free regime in some context: Members of the European Parliament warned certain politicians and oligarchs that the visa-free regime may be abolished if Ukraine fails to pursue the anticorruption policy. However, they pointed out that their words do not concern the abolition of the visa-free regime in general.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, said: “We are ready to provide conditions for Ukraine to gradually integrate into Europe’s internal market.”

And added: the European Union hopes that “Ukraine will continue to fulfil its commitments [under the Association Agreement] till the end.”

All right, and what has been signed?

Six documents concerning bilateral Ukraine-EU cooperation worth the total of almost 400 million euros. Three of them are between the government of Ukraine and the EU:

  • The EU’s Strong Regions program, according to which, the EU will provide 30 million euros to Ukraine. This document is aimed to bring in the EU’s assistance to strengthen Ukraine’s resilience, in particular, to hybrid threats and destabilizing situations (COVID-19, etc.), and to enhance Ukraine’s peacebuilding potential;
  • Mechanism for Development of Civil Society in Ukraine. This is about the EU’s assistance in strengthening democracy in Ukraine. Total amount of the EU’s contribution: 20 million euros;
  • Climate Action for Sustainable Economy (CASE) in Ukraine, envisaging development and implementation of a policy and an action plan for transition to a climatically neutral, clean, resource-efficient and safe energy supply and energy consumption. The EU’s contribution: 10 million euros.

Another three documents are between the government of Ukraine and the European Investment Bank:

  • Energy Performance of Public Buildings in Ukraine. This is about improvement of thermal modernization of public buildings in Ukraine. Total amount of the EIB’s contribution: 300 million euros;
  • Logistics Network (Modernization and Digitalization of the Ukrainian Postal Service) (covering two documents): for this project, Ukraine will receive 30 million euros;

What else has been discussed?

About coronavirus. This summit was the first offline meeting of EU leaders with the head of a partner state in Brussels since the imposition of the coronavirus-related quarantine. According to Charles Michel, it again “emphasized the EU’s devotion in the relationship with Ukraine”. The President of the European Council noted a “very successful cooperation” between Ukraine and the Union on combating COVID-19, and said that he is looking forward to “even closer” one (and not just with regard to coronavirus).

“The 190 million-euro support package and the 1.2 billion-euro macro-financial assistance program, which the EU mobilized for Ukraine to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its socioeconomic impact, substantially exceed the assistance provided by other partners. We noted the gratitude of the leadership and citizens of Ukraine for the assistance they were provided with,” the joint communique of the summit’s participants says. 

It was also stressed that the EU will continue cooperation with Ukraine to “facilitate an access to the future vaccine against COVID-19 as a common global achievement at affordable prices.”

About the war in the Donbas. Like every EU-Ukraine summit held in recent years, this year’s summit also discussed the support for Ukraine from the EU in combating Russian aggression. Leaders of the European Union reminded about support for the Normandy Format, OSCE, Trilateral Contact Group, and OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Ukraine.

About reforms. EU leaders noted, in particular, the start of land reform, passage of the banking regulation law, the progress in decentralization reform, and the launch of the Higher Anticorruption Court.

The chief European diplomat, Josep Borrell, who earlier said after a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky that “the EU is not a cash dispenser”, again reiterated his stance. “The EU’s help to Ukraine is not unconditional; we do not act on a charitable basis,” Mr. Borrell said, explaining that the EU provides financial assistance to Ukraine solely in exchange for reforms.

By Olena Kurenkova

Source: Hromadske