Select Committee on European Scrutiny Sixth Report




Relations with Ukraine: Council report to the European Council on the implementation of the Common Strategy of the European Union on Ukraine.

Legal base:
Document originated:10 December 2002
Deposited in Parliament:30 December 2002
Department:Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of consideration:EM of 30 December 2002
Previous Committee Report:None
Discussed in Council:12-13 December 2002 European Council
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared

The Government's view

  10.1  Implementation reports on the EU's Common Strategy on Ukraine are required annually by the European Council. This Council report covers the work of the Spanish and Danish Presidencies in 2002.

  10.2  The Common Strategy's main objectives are:

  • consolidation of democracy, rule of law, public institutions and respect for human rights;

  • supporting the process of economic and social reforms;

  • strengthening regional and cross-border co-operation;

  • promotion of co-operation on Justice and Home Affairs;

  • strengthened EU/Ukraine co-operation in the context of enlargement;

  • strengthening stability and security in Europe and beyond; and

  • co-operation on the environment, energy and nuclear safety.

— Consolidation of democracy, the rule of law, public institutions and respect for human rights

  10.3  The first section deals with the EU's contribution to the consolidation of democracy, the rule of law, public institutions and respect for human rights. The report refers to the importance of European participation in the international missions to observe the campaign prior to the parliamentary elections in March, but makes no further comment on them. It does, however, stress that freedom of the media was "another point of concern". Expressing concern about the deterioration in the EU urged the Ukrainian authorities to conduct a transparent and efficient investigation into the deaths of two journalists. No satisfactory response had been received when the report was finalised.

  10.4  The EU has made it clear to Ukraine that progress in bilateral relations will be based on shared political and economic values. At the EU-Ukraine Summit on 4 July 2002, the report says that it was agreed that it was of vital importance for Ukraine's development, and for an improvement in the relationship, that the institutions guaranteeing these values should be strengthened. The EU's assistance would be increased but the Ukraine needed to follow up its commitments with action.

  10.5  In April, the Council discussed a common policy on developing the EU's relations, following enlargement, with Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus. The New Neighbours Initiative, which was discussed again in the Council in September, aims to promote democratic and economic reforms, sustainable development and trade with these three countries, in a bid to ensure greater stability and prosperity to the east of the new borders of the Union. The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) in November asked the Commission and the High Representative to prepare a detailed proposal on taking the Initiative further. It will be based on a differentiated approach which takes into consideration each country's distinct political and economic situation and potential. In the case of Ukraine, relations are only expected to move forward if Ukraine actively implements reforms and respects its international commitments, and the EU stressed again at the Troika meetings in October and November that the partnership must be based on common democratic values.

— Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)

  10.6  Following the adoption in November 2001 of the EU Action Plan, cooperation with Ukraine on JHA entered a new phase. The Spanish Presidency introduced a scoreboard for implementation, evaluation and defining annual priorities. The Plan envisages increased cooperation on:

  • migration and asylum;

  • border management and visas;

  • organised crime;

  • judicial and police cooperation; and

  • strengthening justice and the rule of law.

  10.7  Under these headings:

  • negotiations on an EU-Ukraine Readmission Agreement started under the Danish Presidency in November;

  • TACIS finances will continue to provide support for creating infrastructures and training for border police and customs officials;

  • greater interaction between the Ukrainian authorities and EUROPOL and EUROJUST will be developed. The Ukrainians have been given a list of Council of Europe Conventions relating to the fight against organised crime, corruption and judicial cooperation, which the EU considers it very important that they should ratify.

  10.8  At the first joint Ministerial meeting on JHA in November, it was agreed which issues should be priorities for cooperation. These include the fight against international terrorism. The Ukrainians have proposed that this issue should be placed on the agenda, on a permanent basis, of the relevant Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) committee. It was also agreed that the TACIS programme would support the establishment of systems and procedures to combat money laundering.

— Economic and social reforms

  10.9  Implementation of the PCA and accession to the World Trade Organisation remain high priorities, with regional and cross-border cooperation endorsed in March as a priority under the PCA. Substantial support has been given to the Science and Technology Centre and exceptional support worth _10 million was approved in July for TACIS.

— European Security and Defence Policy

  10.10  New arrangements agreed under the Spanish Presidency will facilitate the involvement of Ukraine in EU crisis management, including military operations. They will cover consultation with Ukraine in periods when there is no crisis. In the case of an emerging crisis, the arrangements foresee intensified dialogue to ensure mutual information on respective positions. In the case of an EU-led crisis management operation, and following an EU Council invitation, the arrangements for Ukrainian involvement have been set out.[15] The Civilian Crisis Management Capability Conference in Brussels on 19 November 2002 is described as a major step forward in establishing specific arrangements for the participation of non-EU countries in such operations. Exploratory talks are now being held on the possible use of Ukrainian long-haul transport aircraft.

  10.11  Ukraine is contributing to the EU Police Mission in Bosnia and is being encouraged by the EU to engage constructively in conflict resolution in Moldova and in improving the situation in Belarus.

— The environment, energy and nuclear safety

  10.12  Co-operation on environment issues is reported to be deepening. A special adviser, funded by the EU, will help with preparations for the Pan-European Conference of Environment Ministers, which Ukraine will host in May 2003.

  10.13  Funds have been allocated through TACIS to overcome the fuel shortage following the closing down of the Chernobyl nuclear power station and the importance of constructive engagement with the EU and ERBD on the loan approval process for modernising two other nuclear power stations has been reiterated. In July, the Commission sponsored a conference on developing the oil and gas sectors.

The Government's view

  10.14  The Minister for Europe, Mr Denis MacShane, describes the report as uncontroversial but says that it does help to reinforce key messages to Ukraine on the need for reform as evidence of its political commitment to "Europeanisation". He adds:

"Following the recent revelations that President Kuchma authorised covert transfer of arms to Iraq, the EU has made clear that this has cast doubt on Ukraine's reliability as a partner. Any development in EU/Ukraine relations will require mutual trust and commitment to common values. However, work on the New Neighbours Initiative, as agreed at the November GAERC, will continue in order to provide an incentive for reform and to give support to democratic reform groups in Ukraine. The EU's long-term relationship with Ukraine is more important than its relationship with Kuchma, whose term of office expires in 2004."


  10.15  Although this report may be uncontroversial, it provides a useful account of the EU's work on its relations with Ukraine. The explicit nature of its reiterated message that improved relations will depend on shared democratic values and a real effort at reform is particularly helpful. The Minister has been unusually clear in pointing out that the EU's long-term relationship with Ukraine is more important than its relationship with President Kuchma. These are useful pointers to the conduct and state of the relationship.

  10.16  We believe that these implementation reports are valuable and agree with the Government that they help to provide continuity in EU policy towards Ukraine between EU presidencies. Two earlier documents on the Common Strategy were debated in European Standing Committee B on 9 February 2000.[16]

  10.17  We note that, in his reply of 28 March 2002 to a letter from the Chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union, the then Minister for Europe, Mr Peter Hain, said that he could not predict the likelihood or otherwise of the three existing Common Strategies being discontinued, though he confirmed that there were no plans to introduce any new Common Strategies. His successor makes no mention, in his Explanatory Memorandum on this report, of discontinuing the Common Strategy on Ukraine. We ask the Government to ensure that future implementation reports are deposited and that an Explanatory Memorandum is submitted on each.

  10.18  We now clear this document.

15   Letter from the FCO considered by the Committee on 26 June 2002 and not reported. Back

16  Official Report, European Standing Committee B, 9 February 2000. Back

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