This information was shared by Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olga Stefanishyna at a meeting with the EBA and GB4U business communities.
Ukraine’s EU candidacy status and further eurointegration is an element of strategic stability which determines the future of our economy and our country for the coming decades. Therefore, Ukraine must fulfil the criteria that are mandatory for continued accession negotiations and restart the legal framework to harmonize it with EU legislation.
Ukrainian government expects that accession negotiations will begin at the end of the year and will continue until Ukraine becomes a capable and competitive member of the EU. Besides, certain changes in the European regulatory system, particularly in the context of agricultural market integration, are required before Ukraine’s accession. The duration of the negotiations will also depend on how quickly Ukraine completes its “homework”. By the way, the practice of other countries shows that the largest amount of investment enters the country during the period between the opening and the closing of negotiations.
In total, the European Union has provided Ukraine with 29,000 legal acts that must be implemented at the time of signing the Accession Agreement. Therefore, the process of “self-screening” is ongoing to assess the compliance of the Ukrainian legislative and regulatory field with European standards. An interim result is expected in June, and the screening will be fully completed by the end of the year and its results will be made publicly available.
Also, eurointegration implies a change for Ukraine in the trade regime both with EU countries and with third countries as upon the accession Ukraine will have membership in the WTO already on the terms of an EU member state. Therefore, the Office of the Vice Prime Minister invites businesses to join the preparation for the negotiations and develop their proposals or reservations regarding access to the common market, subsidies and financing, transitional periods, and “red lines”. This will be particularly relevant for export-oriented national producers, who face new opportunities due to the opening of new markets and also difficulties due to a more protected European domestic market.
The EU macro-financial assistance to Ukraine this year will amount to 18 billion euros, but access to EU structural funds, which provide for additional financing and support for reforms, still remains closed. According to Ms Stefanishyna, Ukraine can get such access at the end of the year after the assessment of its preparedness for accession. However, Ukraine will soon start implementing bilateral projects with EU countries, particularly in the field of infrastructure, which will be financed from the structural funds of the European Union. The first such project will be implemented with Slovakia, and negotiations are underway with Poland and Romania.
According to Ms Stefanishyna, the Agreement on Ukraine’s Accession to the EU can include a separate section on the reconstruction and restoration of Ukraine, which will detail the plan for the reconstruction of Ukraine, including financing mechanisms, and provide, for example, localization conditions that will reflect the interests of the Ukrainian business.
The greatest efforts for harmonizing Ukrainian legislation with EU practices must be made in the field of environment and green transformation in which we are years behind European standards, and access to finance is dependent on compliance with such standards. It is necessary to harmonize the regulation of the pharma business as this sector is not mentioned at all in the Association Agreement, as well as agriculture where only a third of all required changes have been implemented and 5,000 EU documents still need to be implemented. Also, much work needs to be done in the field of labour relations as the rights of employees are more protected in the EU.
To process such huge volumes of documents in foreseeable future, Ms Stefanishyna will rely on Ukraine’s extensive experience in harmonization and adaptation of legislation, particularly regarding technical changes that do not require lengthy discussions. Besides, negotiation teams will be created in each Ministry, and the Deputy Prime Minister will have a separate team consisting of professional and motivated specialists who will prepare Ukraine for EU accession as soon as possible while ensuring that Ukraine’s national interests are preserved.
Experts from business community have once again reassured Ms Stefanishyna they are ready to provide all kinds of support to state bodies to bring Ukrainian legislation and the legal field into compliance with EU norms and together contribute to Ukraine’s accession to the EU.