The European Union Wednesday approved EUR494 million in aid to the Ukraine through 2010 to support economic and political reforms, according to Dow Jones.

The money is also meant to help Ukraine build gas, oil and renewable energy infrastructure and to integrate its energy market with the European Union.

"Ukraine has made remarkable progress in democratic and economic reforms since the Orange Revolution," said European External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. "Our assistance will focus in particular on strengthening good governance and democratic institutions, bringing Ukrainian legislation and standards closer to those of the E.U. and supporting cooperation in key sectors such as energy, transport and the environment."

On Monday the E.U. launched negotiations for closer economic and political ties with Kiev. Brussels hopes increased cooperation with the Ukraine will lead to more stable gas supplies from Russia. Ukraine hosts a major pipeline to Western Europe from Russia.

The negotiations and the money, to be presented to Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko Thursday when he visits Brussels as part of the E.U.`s so-called `Neighbourhood Policy.`

The program, meant to draw Europe`s land and sea neighbors closer to the 27- nation bloc and improve political and economic ties with them, includes Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Armenia, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority and Moldova.

The program isn`t a fast-track towards E.U. membership.