EU Member States are set to say a resolute “no” to Russia that demands the rewriting of the landmark trade deal the block has signed with Ukraine despite Moscow’s demand to change the text. The official statement of both the EU Council and European Commission will emphasize that the EU-Ukraine agreement is “is a bilateral [EU-Ukraine] agreement and any adaptations to it can only be made at the request of one of the parties and with the agreement of the other”. Both institutions added that Ukraine ought to go on with the process of planned reforms and economic modernization as required by the deal.
The EU declaration is due to be published today (29 September) in Brussels by ministers at a General Affairs Council. Ministers are also about to adopt a legal document saying that most of the treaty is going to be implemented “without delay”. EU members are also envisaging to extend “autonomous trade measures”, such as very low, even zero-rate, trade tariffs for most exports from Ukraine to the EU, from November 2014 until January 2016. Yet, the legal document is still not ready for adoption.
Russian Trade Minister Alexey Ulyukaev said in his official letter to EU Trade Commissioner Karl De Gucht earlier this month that the “EU-Ukraine-Russia trilateral group should have the mandate that would enable legally binding formulas to remove the concerns of the Russia side.” Minister Ulyukaev however warned that the “full or partial implementation” of the deal by Ukraine before 2016 will make Kremlin “adjust … the preferential regime” that the country has on Ukrainian imports. President Putin reiterated the same idea in his second letter to EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso last week.