Commission to propose EU Council sign agreement with Ukraine once Kyiv fulfills all tasks, says Fule
An exclusive interview of EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule with Interfax-Ukraine
Question: On May 15 we will have EC College where we expect some decisions towards the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA). I would like to ask you what has to happen?
Answer: The Commission is to adopt a proposal on the Association Agreement and will send it to the Council. This is a proposal for getting the mandate to sign the AA, and concerning the opening for provisional application of parts of the Agreement, once the Member States assess that the conditions for this are right.
The Commission is going to make very clear that for such assessment all conditions, to which ministers of foreign affairs referred on the 10th of December Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) Conclusion, have to be fulfilled.
The decision we are going to take has essentially a technical nature. It is needed at this point of the time because it will provide to the member states enough time to follow all necessary procedures within the Council and within all domestic legislation.
This time has been chosen also to insure that member states are ready: "A" - to make an assessment close to Vilnius summit (whether conditions are right for signing the AA), and "B", if such an assessment is positive, to sign the AA. But the assessment as such is for later.
Question: How this decision will be taken from technical point of view? Do you have some kind of agreement within the Commission or can we already say that the Commission will recommend its member states to sign the AA?
Answer: No, as I said the political assessment if the conditions are right for signature will be made later and it will be made by the member states. The material we are going to send to the member states is a legislative proposal for a Council decision but it is a procedural and technical document indicating that the work on the AA was finalised by the negotiators and that in principle the AA could be signed if – later on – the political assessment states that all conditions are fulfilled.
Question: Will the European Commission actually ask about the mandate?
Answer: The Commission will submit to the Council the result of almost six years of work and submit the proposal for signature. Without this proposal the Council would not be in a position to sign the Agreement. It will be within the powers of the Council to decide if and when to sign the AA.
Question: Are we talking about October?
Answer: The Foreign Affairs Council in late October could be one of the possibility but it will be up to the member states to make this decision.
Question: Will European Commission send AA only to member states or also to the Council and to the European Parliament?
Answer: Yes, eventually both institutions will receive the Association Agreement. I would like to underline that the adoption of the Commission's proposals will enable the EU to move ahead with the necessary preparatory arrangements to enable a possible signing at the Vilnius Summit.
The signing of the Agreement remains conditional on determined action and tangible progress by Ukrainian authorities on all of the benchmarks set out by the December 10, 2012 Council Conclusions. The Commission will continue to monitor Ukraine's progress.
Question: Recently we had two visits in Brussels of Ukrainian representatives – Secretary of National Security and Defence Council Andriy Kluyev and First Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov. What is your assessment on these visits, was it helpful to see there is Ukraine on the way of the implementation of necessary conditions?
Answer: Actually, I had meetings not only with Mr. Kliuyev and Mr. Arbuzov. Also we had visit of Mr. [Arseniy] Yatseniuk (Yatsenyuk is one of the Ukrainian opposition leaders). It was important for me to talk to three of them for the assessment of the progress made and to see what needs to be done.
During a meeting with Mr. Kliuyev we focused – number one - on the compatibility of assessment which needs to be improved and - number two – what is needed for farther work, particularly in the three fields. First is the timing for judicial reform, to which, as it seems to us, too much time was taken for preparing relevant draft. It will not provide to us the time to make an assessment before Vilnius summit. Second is election legislation and third is indeed a selective justice, the lack of the strategy, how to address Yulia Tymoshenko case and address recurrence of this issue.
For first deputy prime minister Arbuzov, as he put it himself, it was education visit for him with the number of Commissioners he met focusing very much on the macro-economic issues. It gave us a possibility to talk about what needs to be done now and at the Vilnius summit, about added value of the DCFTA [Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area]. We also took a look at the integration part of the AA for Ukraine.
With Mr. Yatsenyuk we had very good discussion about constructive role of the opposition in the preparations and adoption of number of pro-European legislation including initiatives on a related legislation. I appreciate the opposition's action toward unblocking the parliament and its constructive involvement in the work on the EU agenda which I see as a platform which can unite actually almost all political forces in Ukraine.
Question: Is this all what you have in your hands to see how Ukraine is doing in the implementation of the conditions? Just meeting with this people? How do you know for sure what is going in Ukraine in this regards?
Answer: There is ongoing process in Kyiv and in Brussels. During my last visit in Kyiv I had a meeting with number of Ukrainian partners, the government and of course, with the Prime Minister. We had agreed how we put together the list what needs to be done. The list reflected of 10-th of December foreign ministers Conclusion and at the same time it listed those issues which Ukraine is committed itself in the process of the cooperation with EU. We agreed that both the EU ambassador in Kyiv and the Ukrainian one in Brussels will monitor this almost on a weekly basis
Question: Are we talking about some kind of monitoring mechanism?
Answer: Exactly! We have monitoring process almost at the weekly basis and we compare the notes. In addition, we have recently received a letter from Foreign Minister of Ukraine Leonid Kozhara with his assessment. So there is a constant flow of information. Monitoring process does not depend on the meeting with Mr. Kliuyev and others. These meetings are a welcome opportunity to reflect to this monitoring mechanism, make a political judgment and to steer this process politically.
Question: After Mr. Kliuyev visit we have got quite strange news about withdrawing Tymoshenko issue from agenda and about a clear signal from Ukraine implying that if AA is not signed, Ukraine will get closer to Russia. I would like to know you opinion on this – what can be a reason for such disinformation? Why?
Answer: To tell the truth – I don’t know what the reason behind this is because as you said this article and the reference to it has nothing to do with reality, nothing to do with what both of us discussed. It appears to me that there are people in Ukraine who are interested in the cheap sensation but not in the truth and reality and it is a pity.