European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, will participate in the EU-Ukraine Foreign Ministers` Troika meeting in Ljubljana on 22 May, according to a CE press-release. Together with Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, who currently holds the EU Presidency, she will meet with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko to take stock of EU-Ukraine relations. The meeting will focus, in particular, on the internal situation in Ukraine and on co-operation in the area of foreign and security policy. It will also take note of the considerable progress made in the on-going negotiations on a New Enhanced Agreement with Ukraine. The Commissioner will take the opportunity to underline the European Union’s continuing support to Ukraine and stress the importance of internal political stability in Ukraine with a view to continuing crucial political and economic reforms in the country.

On the eve of the meeting, Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said:

“I am delighted that we are making such good progress in the on-going negotiations on a New Enhanced Agreement with Ukraine. The new agreement will be ambitious and innovative, and will reflect the great importance we attach to this growing partnership. Following Ukraine`s recent accession to the WTO, we are working hard on the free trade area aspects of the Agreement and this is a crucial step towards Ukraine’s full integration into the European economy".

She added: "Political stability is essential for the future of the reform process in Ukraine. We also look forward to decisive progress on the constitutional reform, so that appropriate checks and balances can be guaranteed."

Enhanced Agreement

Since the launch of negotiations in March 2007 on a New Enhanced Agreement with Ukraine, seven rounds have taken place, with the eighth round scheduled to take place on 2-4 June in Kiev. The Agreement aims to deepen political co-operation on democracy, human rights and the rule of law, establishing a deep and comprehensive free trade area, increasing energy security, and strengthening co-operation on key areas such as justice, freedom and security, environment, transport and people-to-people exchanges. Following confirmation in February by the WTO General Council of Ukraine’s WTO membership, negotiations where also launched in February on the free trade area element of the New Enhanced Agreement. Ukraine`s membership of the WTO came into force on 16th May.

EU Ukraine Action Plan

Since the adoption of the joint Action Plan in 2005, Ukraine has advanced in its political and economic reform process, most prominently with the conduct of overall free and fair parliamentary elections in March 2006 and September 2007, and steps taken to strengthen respect for human rights, rule of law, and freedom of expression. A Memorandum of Understanding on Energy co operation is being implemented, and agreements on visa facilitation and readmission entered into force in January 2008. The EU expects to see further progress in fighting corruption, reforming the judiciary, and improving the investment climate.