On Friday the 3rd of February, the annual EU-Ukraine Summit was held in Kyiv, just weeks before the 1-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
EU officials, such as the President of the EU Council Charles Michel and President of the EU Commission Ursula Von Leyen, gathered to the annual Summit with other EU delegates and a host of Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, to discuss the ongoing relationship between the EU and Ukraine.
The meeting is the first Summit held since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The last took place in 2021. The aim of these meetings are to strengthen the political and economic relationship between the EU and Ukraine.
One major point of discussion of these meetings for Ukraine is the possibility of assimilation into the EU.
The obvious benefits of joining the EU include joining the Euro Zone, the world's largest trading block and the economic underpinning of the world's second largest currency reserve, as well as a coverage within the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy which extends to all EU member states.
Ukraine gained status as a Candidate Country in June 2022, in a landmark step towards membership. Since then, Ukraine has worked to meet more criteria that would allow its acceptance. Ukraine has persisted in these efforts despite its ongoing and bloody war with Russia.
The Summit saw the EU diplomatically manage expectations for Ukraine in regard to this matter. Prime Minister of Denys Shmyhal has demonstrated the eagerness of Ukraine to join with a self proclaimed, “very ambitious plan to join the European Union within the next two years” as the official stated.
However, this isn’t feasible for the EU, as Ukraine still has a long way to go in meeting the specific criteria laid out for membership. French President Emmanuel Macron stated last year that, “We all know perfectly well that the process to allow [Ukraine] to join would take several years indeed, probably several decades.”
Essentially, even under the special circumstances Ukraine finds itself in, allowing them selective treatment would lower the standards for entry into the EU and will concern current member states on the integrity of the Union.
The most forthright sign of tangible action came from the announcement of a tenth set of sanctions on the Russian State and its industries.
While details of this tenth package were undisclosed in the EU-Ukraine’s joint statement following the summit, a press report by polish news outlet “Rzeczpospolita” leaked certain alleged details of the new sanctions.
These include but are not limited to:
Restricting Russia's nuclear sector, leading to a complete ban on cooperation with the Russian Nuclear industry.
A further attempt to reduce Russia's earning from oil exports by lowering the Russian Oil Price Cap.
Prohibiting the trade of diamonds with Russia; this is not yet covered by the current luxury goods prohibitions.
New sanctions on Belarus; the Eastern European country is supporting Russia with its efforts in Ukraine.
[Source(s): Baker Mckenzie, Reuters]
In addition, the EU furthered its intention of bringing Ukraine into the European Roaming Area, a move that would benefit Ukrainian nationals that are currently in refuge in European territories.
We can see from the Summit that the EU is re-affirming its growing commitment to Ukraine with both political and financial promises. However, the summit was used as more of a point of reflection on previous action rather than a commitment on a specific path for the future, barring a few specialized areas. Nonetheless, the Summit will be seen as a success for both the EU and Ukraine.
Image Courtesy of: President.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=116773824
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