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Fact Sheet on the EU-Ukraine relations

Brussels, 06 March 2014


EU-Ukraine relations

The European Union is currently focusing its efforts on de-escalating the crisis in Ukraine. The EU calls on all sides to continue engaging in a meaningful and inclusive dialogue leading to a lasting solution; to protect the unity and territorial integrity of the country and to strive to ensure a stable, prosperous and democratic future for all Ukraine's citizens. The EU has also proposed to step-up its support for Ukraine's economic and political reforms.

A priority partner

The EU is committed to a policy of sequenced engagement with Ukraine and to a close relationship that encompasses gradual progress towards political association and economic integration. Ukraine is a priority partner country within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Eastern Partnership (EaP). The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Ukraine, which entered into force in 1998, provides a comprehensive framework for cooperation between the EU and Ukraine in key areas of reform.

A new Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, was negotiated in 2007-2011 and initialled in 2012. On 10 December 2012, the Council of the European Union adopted Conclusions on Ukraine that affirmed the EU's commitment to signing the Agreement as soon as Ukraine had taken determined action and made tangible progress towards achieving the benchmarks set out in the Conclusions.

An updated version of the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda was also endorsed by the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council on 24 June 2013 |1|.

On 21 November 2013, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine took a decision to suspend preparations to sign the Association Agreement at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. The EU has taken note of the unprecedented public support in Ukraine for political association and economic integration with the EU and remains ready to sign the Association Agreement on the basis of determined action and tangible progress on the EU's benchmarks. To this end, important progress has already been achieved.

Recent events

The EU has been following the political situation in Ukraine closely and has been deeply engaged in seeking a solution to the crisis that developed after months of peaceful protest on the central 'Maidan' in Kyiv following the government's announcement regarding the Association Agreement.

Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, and Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule have visited Kyiv on multiple occasions since the outbreak of the protests, as have Foreign Ministers from numerous EU Member States and Members of European Parliament in a near-constant demonstration of this engagement. In meetings with the authorities, opposition leaders and representatives of civil society, the EU's efforts have been focused on facilitating dialogue and assisting efforts to stabilise the political situation.

The Council of the European Union in its Foreign Affairs formation (convened and chaired by HR/VP Ashton) adopted Conclusions on 10 February 2014 underlining its concern notably over reported abuses of human rights and cases of violence, intimidation and missing persons, expressing its readiness to react quickly to any deterioration on the ground.

HR/VP Ashton convened an extraordinary session of the Foreign Affairs Council on 20 February 2014, where in light of the deteriorating situation, the EU decided notably to introduce targeted sanctions and Member States agreed to suspend export licences on equipment which might be used for internal repression. Expressing the EU's deep dismay at the deteriorating session and condemning in the strongest terms all use of violence, the EU urged all sides to engage, without further delay, in a meaningful dialogue, to fulfil the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people (see Conclusions).

A second extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on 3 March 2014 condemned the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces as well as the authorisation given by the Federation Council of Russia on 1 March for the use of the armed forces on the territory of Ukraine.

The EU called on Russia to immediately withdraw its armed forces to the areas of their permanent stationing, in accordance with the Agreement on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet stationing on the territory of Ukraine of 1997. The EU also commended the measured response demonstrated by Ukraine (see Conclusions).

The Council on 5 March adopted EU sanctions focused on the freezing and recovery of misappropriated Ukrainian state funds, targeting 18 persons identified as responsible for such misappropriation and whose assets within the European Union have now been frozen. The sanctions also contain provisions facilitating the recovery of the frozen funds, once certain conditions are met.

The European Union stands by the efforts of the new Ukrainian Government to stabilise the situation and pursue the course of reforms. The EU reaffirms the necessity of further constitutional reform in Ukraine and to hold free, fair and transparent Presidential elections with OSCE-ODIHR observation. The EU reaffirms the utmost importance of ensuring inclusiveness at all levels of government by the Ukrainian authorities, including through steps designed to reach out to all Ukrainian regions, population groups and to ensure full protection of national minorities in accordance with Ukraine's international commitments. In this regard, it encourages Ukraine to draw on the expertise of the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

Increased support and cooperation

On 5 March, the European Commission proposed a series of economic and financial support measures as part of international efforts in support of Ukraine's economic and political reforms, to be presented to the EU Heads of State and Government at their extraordinary meeting on Ukraine on 6 March. 11 billion could be available over the next years from the EU budget and EU-based international financial institutions. This is to stabilise the economic and financial situation, assist with the transition and encourage political and economic reform.

The signature and implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, while not constituting the final goal of EU-Ukraine cooperation, would bring opportunities for sustainable economic development and prosperity to all the regions of Ukraine, including Crimea, as well as to its neighbours. The EU reiterates its commitment to enhance people to people contacts between the EU and Ukraine, notably through the visa liberalisation process.

[Source: European Union External Action, Brussels, 06Mar14]


1. Originally adopted in 2009 and updated in 2011, the Agenda replaced the former Action Plan preparing for and facilitating the entry into force of the Association Agreement. [Back]

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