Europe in the World

Eastern Promises Project


To sign or not to sign? That's the EU-Ukraine question

13 February 2012
Amanda Paul (Senior Policy Analyst)



2012 is expected to be an important yet difficult year for Ukraine, particularly as regards the country’s relationship with the EU. Ukraine is the most important country in the EU’s Eastern Partnership. The EU describes the country as a ‘priority partner’, and they both cooperate in numerous different sectors including energy, transport and mobility. Trade between the two partners in 2011 was worth some 500 billion euros. However, relations between the two soured in 2011, primarily as a consequence of the trial and subsequent imprisonment of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Over the last four years Ukraine and the EU have been negotiating an Association Agreement (AA), including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). The EU has seemingly now linked the signature and ratification of the AA to improving democratic standards in the country. Parliamentary elections, scheduled for 28 October, will be a crucial litmus test in this respect. In this Commentary, Amanda Paul looks at the future prospects for Ukraine-EU relations, lays out what could be expected over the coming months, looks at possible scenarios for the elections and argues why it is important for the EU to sign the AA with Ukraine.

To sign or not to sign? That's the EU-Ukraine question

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