Europe in the World

Eastern Promises Project

Ukraine-EU Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement - agreement in sight?

7 April 2011

Philippe Cuisson, Deputy Head of Unit for Trade aspects of European Neighbourhood Policy, European Commission, began the dialogue by saying that the negotiation of the deep and comprehensive free trade agreement (DCFTA) between the EU and Ukraine had begun four years ago, and it was now time to bring the process to a close. The remaining issues that need to be agreed are ‘the trickiest’, but there is a constructive atmosphere in the negotiations.

Mr Cuisson referred to the number of declarations coming from Russia, which demonstrates that the negotiations are close to a deal.  It is certainly not the intention of the EU to create difficulties with common neighbours. Referring to the Ukrainian President’s comment that Ukraine was ready to cooperate with the Russia-led Customs Union, on the basis of free trade agreements, Mr Cuisson said that a free trade agreement between a Russia-led Customs Union and Ukraine would not be a problem for the EU. Ukraine needs to ‘balance its position’, adding that he thought the President’s statement was ‘clear and wise’.

Turning to the current negotiations Mr Cuisson said that there were sensitive sectors, for both partners, in particular related to agricultural products. The negotiators were doing their best to reduce the scope of the disagreement.

Responding to Mr Cuisson, Valeriy Pyatnytskiy, Ukrainian Deputy Minister for the Economy, and Chief Negotiator for the DCFTA, said that he hoped that this would be the final year for the negotiations. Taking into account the bureaucratic process after the conclusion of negotiations, the end of the year looks realistic in terms of finalising the process.

While he agreed that there were a still number of issues to resolve, he believed that the most sensitive was not the agriculture sector. He emphasised that the agreement is not simply about trade, but also about investment and development. The agreement will help create an environment where business can feel more comfortable, whichever market they are operating in. It is also about capacity building.

Turning to Mr Cuisson’s reference to President Yanukovych’s recent statement, he said Ukraine’s target was fully-fledged integration into the EU economic, social, cultural and legal environment. A successful agreement with the EU would also open the door for Ukraine to conclude a better free trade agreement with the Russian-led Customs Union. He was confident that the DCFTA would not only strengthen Ukraine’s economic capacity and trade, but also increase its capability to be present in the European market.

In this programme