Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Dmytro Kuleba opened the 5th meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Committee, which has begun today in Brussels, Belgium.
The top official reminded that the current Government is the first in the history of Ukraine to include in its official Action Program an ambitious goal - to achieve the Copenhagen Criteria necessary for EU accession over the next five years.
According to Dmytro Kuleba, the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU is the basis for reforms in Ukraine. However, the significance and potential of this Agreement are much greater, since Ukraine's integration into the EU under this Agreement is also a way to strengthen the European Union.
He thanked the EU for the partnership: "We value your firm support and solidarity in the context of ongoing Russian aggression as Russia continues to destroy our country by illegally occupying the Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and spreading misinformation and hatred throughout the country," Deputy Prime Minister stressed and added Ukraine appreciates the EU's support for reforms in the country.
Dmytro Kuleba outlined five current priorities for Ukraine on its path towards the EU integration. First, it is sectoral integration. "I urge you to develop concrete common steps, roadmaps, programs and action plans to support the high dynamics of Ukraine's integration into the EU digital and energy markets, simplify customs formalities in trade with the EU, as well as in justice, freedom and security sectors," he stressed.
The second priority is overcoming the effects of climate change and pursuing an energy efficiency policy. "I represent a Government that takes climate change more seriously than any other government. We welcome The European Green Deal. Ukraine expresses readiness to become a reliable partner of the EU in decarbonization, in particular regarding the joint energy system with the EU," said the member of the Ukrainian Government.
The third priority is to bring the provisions of the Association Agreement into line with the real growth of trade, in particular through revision of tariffs, duty-free quotas and capacity building through the conclusion of the ACAA (an industrial free visa regime) following the completion of the relevant bilateral procedures. "We hope to meet the EU Assessment Mission to access an opportunity to join the ACAA in Kyiv soon," Dmytro Kuleba said.
The fourth priority is taking European integration to the regions of Ukraine - the so-called decentralization of European integration. "Last week, I participated in the opening of an EU regional office in Mariupol. Your vision of such a presence in the regions is in line with our Government's vision of opening European integration offices in all regions of Ukraine. I would be very grateful if the European Union could support us in this endeavor. I believe you share my conviction that the EU would benefit from uniting with the Government to promote European values, standards, practices and instruments, from acting in a coherent, deeper and more effective way," the Deputy Prime Minister emphasized.
The fifth priority is the rehabilitation of Donbas infrastructure.
Dmytro Kuleba noted that there are a number of obstacles on the way towards achieving these goals, such as bureaucracy, financial and political turmoil, lack of ambition or excessive ambition. "But we should keep in mind a proverb: where there is a will there’s a way. I look forward to the desire of both parties to make maximum use of the Association Agreement in order to move forward for the sake of the Ukrainian people and Europe as a whole," the Deputy Prime Minister stressed.