The European Commission has proposed negotiating directives for a new enhanced agreement with Ukraine to step up cooperation in a range of areas, including energy, justice and transportation, according to the Energy Business Review. The Commission is suggesting that this new agreement replace the existing partnership and cooperation agreement.

      The EC said that the enhanced agreement should take a comprehensive and ambitious approach and include a Free Trade Area. The agency said that the proposed agreement will cover all areas of EU-Ukraine activity and going beyond the existing agreement wherever possible. The new agreement would include extensive provisions on energy, enhanced cooperation on justice, and cooperation in a range of other areas, including transportation and environmental issues.

      The proposed negotiating directives will go the Council of Ministers for approval, with a view to beginning negotiations early in 2007.

      The decision comes on the eve of the first visit of the new Ukrainian Prime Minister to Brussels. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovitch will meet vice president Guenther Verheugen and Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and will take part in the EU-Ukraine Co-operation Council.

      "I am delighted that the Commission has proposed negotiating guidelines for the new agreement, which will help reinforce our partnership with Ukraine. The new agreement will bring us closer together by stepping up our co-operation in a wide range of areas, including vital topics like energy, justice and security issues, transport and the environment," stated commissioner for external relations and European neighborhood policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner. "I hope that it will spur Ukraine on to continue the all important reform efforts which we have begun together."