It was Ukraine with whom Brussel held the first public not a virtual summit during the Covid-19 pandemic because our country remains a strategic priority and a partner of the EU. It is seen from the common final declaration, which sets fixed areas of work for next year. Also, it declares financial assistance allocated by the EU to Ukraine in addition to the previously mentioned tranche of 1.3 billion euros.
The summit has finally allayed manipulations on the issue that a visa-free travel for the citizens of Ukraine is about to be abolished
The summit has finally allayed manipulations on the issue that a visa-free travel for the citizens of Ukraine is about to be abolished. Despite the fears of certain MEPs, the official position of Brussel remains the same – after lifting restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Ukrainian citizens will continue to travel freely in Europe.
It is worth being noted that German and MEP Viola von Cramon has expressed the greatest number of “worries” lately. She likes reminding that the EU can abolish visa-free travel for Ukraine. However, some activists and Ukrainian mass media interpret it as an official European’s position for some reason.
Actually, at most, an MEP can qualify for her own subjective position, which is by no means the position of official Brussels. This is a basis for the manipulative statements about some kind of “betrayal.” It is obviously advantageous for certain political forces, for which the possible abolition or restriction of “free travel” is a chance for great publicity or realization of political ambitions. Thus, they are frightening Ukrainians.
Predictability of Europeans is a good and useful feature, which many top officials of the Ukrainian government lack
However, it should be borne in mind that European officials are predictable in their activities, and no one will "shoot from the hip", as they say. After all, institutional memory and rules operate in Europe. That is, if the strategy defines clear goals and status for a particular country, this status will not be changed on the fly. It is not solid, so to speak. Therefore, the predictability of Europeans is a good and useful feature, which many top officials of the Ukrainian government lack.
It is obvious that Europeans have questions regarding the anti-corruption dynamics in Ukraine. However, who said that the fight against corruption is a matter of one day? This is a process, which lasts and will last more than one day. After all, to launch it, Ukraine met its mandated conditions, in particular, those that relate to the creation and operation of the anti-corruption infrastructure.
Nevertheless, visa-free travel is not the only thing. The main feature of Ukraine – EU summit was the discussion of the so-called industrial visa-free regime. According to Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine is working on strengthening cooperation between the EU and Ukraine. In particular, it works on the renewal of the Association Agreement, especially in the trade and sectoral parts.
It is a normal world practice to review agreements after five years of cooperation. After all, the challenges of time are obvious. We should not be afraid to ask questions that Ukrainian business is concerned with. This practice works in all development-oriented countries that clearly understand their goals in the world. Therefore, it is not surprising that Ukrainian business is planning to discuss and defend its interests because the EU market is promising for them. However, Europeans also have their demands. I once wrote that the character of sovereignty was the ability of a country to create and organize independently policy and order based on its national interests. After all, when the interests of another country or countries prevail, we can talk about a partial loss of independence.
After the Summit, there was a pleasant aftertaste – there are no losers or obvious winners of the negotiation
For sure, Ukraine returned from Brussels not with treason, but with the prospect of revising the Association to a pragmatic and constructive one, where the interests of Ukrainian manufacturers can be taken into account. The EU, for its part, has once again reaffirmed Ukraine's territorial integrity and expressed its readiness to assist in humanitarian projects in Donbas. Although these are just declarations so far, and the real restoration of the destroyed territories and infrastructure is still far away, statements of this kind confirm the predictability and position of the EU, which has already been mentioned above.
After the Summit, there was a pleasant aftertaste – there are no losers or obvious winners of the negotiation. The parties defend their positions in a civilized manner. However, it should be mentioned that any conversations and arrangements are always tested in practice. Therefore, it is worth monitoring how many projects, which should enrich the two parties in both material and value aspects, will be implemented as a result of the Summit.
Taras Semeniuk is an analyst with Kyivstratpro