New legal basis and framework for EU-Ukraine relations is established by the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA).
An Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, was negotiated in 2007-2011 and initialled in 2012. On 10 December 2012, the Council of the European Union adopted Conclusions on Ukraine that affirmed the EU’s commitment to signing the Agreement as soon as Ukraine had taken determined action and made tangible progress towards achieving the benchmarks set out in the Conclusions.
The EU and Ukraine signed the political provisions of the Association Agreement on 21 March 2014, underlining committment to proceed with the signature and conclusion of the remaining parts of the Agreement. Following the completion of technical preparations, the EU and Ukraine signed the remaining provisions of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in Brussels on 27 June 2014. Provisional application of important parts of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement began on 1 November 2014: on the respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and rule of law; political dialogue and reform; justice, freedom and security; economic and financial cooperation. The AA will enter into force once all EU Member States and Ukraine have ratified it.
The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement replaced the EU-Ukraine Partnership and Cooperation Agreement as the legal basis and framework for EU-Ukraine relations. The AA constitutes a new state in the development of EU-Ukraine contractual relations, aiming at political association and economic integration. It provides for a shared commitment to a close and lasting relationship based on common values, in particular full respect for democratic principles, rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The AA includes provisions for a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). The DCFTA offers Ukraine a framework for modernising its trade relations and for economic development by the opening of markets via the progressive removal of customs tariffs and quotas, and by an extensive harmonisation of laws, norms and regulations in various trade-related sectors. This will create the conditions for aligning key sectors of the Ukrainian economy to EU standards.
The implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, while not constituting the final goal of EU-Ukraine cooperation, will bring opportunities for sustainable economic development and prosperity to all the regions of Ukraine, as well as to its neighbours.
The AA determines the institutional framework of the EU – Ukraine relations.
The highest level of political and policy dialogue between the Parties is at Summit level, which takes place once a year. The Summit provides overall guidance for the implementation of the AA as well as an opportunity to discuss any bilateral or international issues of mutual interest.
At ministerial level, regular political and policy dialogue takes place within the Association Council within the framework of regular meetings at least once a year. It supervises and monitors the application and implementation of the AA and periodically reviews the functioning of the AA in the light of its objectives. The Association Council consists of members of the Council of the European Union and members of the European Commission, on the one hand, and of members of the Government of Ukraine, on the other. It is chaired in turn by a representative of the Union and a representative of Ukraine.
For the purpose of attaining the objectives of the AA the Association Council has the power to take decisions within the scope of the AA, in the cases provided for therein. Such decisions are binding upon the Parties. The Association Council may also make recommendations.
In line with the objective of gradual approximation of Ukraine's legislation to that of the Union as laid down in the AA, the Association Council will be a forum for exchange of information on European Union and Ukrainian legislative acts, both under preparation and in force, and on implementation, enforcement and compliance measures. Moreover the Association Council may update or amend the Annexes to the AA, taking into account the evolution of EU law and applicable standards set out in international instruments.
In order to assist the Association Council in the performance of its duties the Association Committee is established. The Association Committee is composed of representatives of the Parties, in principle at senior civil servant level. The Association Committee shall meet at least once a year.
The Association Council may delegate to the Association Committee any of its powers, including the power to take binding decisions. The Association Committee shall meet in a specific configuration to address all issues related to Title IV (Trade and Trade-related Matters) of this Agreement. The Association Committee is assisted by sub-committees established under the AA.
Interparliamentary coordination is provided in the framework of Parliamentary Association Committee. It is a forum for Members of the European Parliament and of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to meet and exchange views. The Parliamentary Association Committee may request relevant information regarding the implementation of the AA from the Association Council, which shall then supply the Committee with the requested information. The Parliamentary Association Committee may make recommendations to the Association Council.
The Parties also promotes regular meetings of representatives of their civil societies, in order to keep them informed of, and gather their input for, the implementation of the AA Agreement. For this purpose a Civil Society Platform is established. It consists of members of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on the one hand, and representatives of civil society on the side of Ukraine, on the other, as a forum to them to meet and exchange views. The Civil Society Platform may make recommendations to the Association Council. On the other hand the Association Committee and Parliamentary Association Committee support regular contacts with representatives of the Civil Society Platform in order to obtain their views on how to attain the objectives of the AA.