EU Commissioner Welcomes Ukraine's Cooperation Not Membership in Customs Union

Feb 06, 2013, 06:04 ET from Worldwide News Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine, February 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Ukraine is welcome to cooperate with the Customs Union on issues which do not contradict the terms and conditions of the Association Agreement, said the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle. Membership in the CU, however, deprives a member state of its sovereignty, sovereign right in its foreign trade policy, he added. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that it is in Brussels' and Kyiv's best interest to keep good relations with its neighbors including Moscow, stressed Füle.

In his statement the EU commissioner noted that it in order to be sure that such cooperation is fully compatible with the Association Agreement intensive counseling is required.  

The EU cannot make any commitments under the Association Agreement with a country that does not have a sovereign right, and whose decision on its foreign trade policy does not belong to her, said Štefan Füle. "We cannot enter into a relationship with Ukraine, knowing that the decision is made by someone somewhere else," - stated the European official, reports Interfax-Ukraine.

Reportedly, on December 24, 2012, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov said that it was possible to find a compromise on cooperation between Ukraine, the European Union and the Customs Union. Subsequently, the European Commission announced that Ukraine's rapprochement with the Customs Union and the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement are incompatible.

Suffice it to say, that Russia has long been offering Ukraine to join the Customs Union, promising cheaper gas among other things. Ukraine, however, is willing to collaborate with the Customs Union without joining it in any format - "3 +1", gradual accession, etc.

Earlier, President Yanukovych rejected Russia's offer of cheaper gas in return for closer economic and political cooperation with the neighboring countries stressing that Kyiv stayed committed to European integration.

Currently, the AA is undergoing the translation process, as it was initialed by the parties in 2012. The document comprises of two sections: one regulating political association issues (political dialogue, reform, association and cooperation in the field of foreign and security policy) and one concerning economic integration (regulates competition, customs, energy, intellectual property, public procurement, services, and sustainable development), namely creating the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.

SOURCE Worldwide News Ukraine