For a long time the legal basis of relations between Ukraine and the European Union is the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation Agreement of 1994 which came into force in 1998 and operated until 2008. This agreement marked the beginning of cooperation on a wide range of political, trade-economic and humanitarian issues. Since 2009 relations between Ukraine and the European Union are developing within the framework of the EU «Eastern Partnership».
Since 2007 the European Commission began negotiations with Ukraine on a new basic agreement – «On the association of Ukraine and the European Union». In 2008 negotiations began on the preparation of an agreement on a deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA) as part of the Association Agreement.
The Association Agreement was initialed by the heads of delegations of Ukraine and the EU 30 March 2012, the agreement on comprehensive free trade area – July 19, 2012. The signing of the Association Agreement was scheduled to take place at the summit of «Eastern Partnership» in November 2013 but the process of preparation was suspended at the initiative of the Ukrainian government.
March 2, 2014 after a change of government, the new government ordered to resume the process of preparing to sign an agreement and on March 21 was signed the political part agreement of Ukraine an association with the EU. Parties signed the parts of the document that relate to political cooperation, security issues and the fight against terrorism. The signing of the political part of the Association Agreement – the first step towards the implementation of Ukraine’s strategic target – EU membership. The economic part of the agreement in particular the establishment of a free trade zone with the EU, is in the process of being finalized. As expected, the economic part will come into force after the completion of the electoral process in Ukraine between 2014 and the beginning of summer 2015.
Worth noting is the fact that today the European Union stands for the maximum acceleration of introduction of visa-free regime for short trips of Ukrainian citizens to the EU. The European Commission stressed the readiness to take all measures for the most rapid transition of Ukraine to the Implementation phase of the Action Plan on the liberalization of the EU visa regime for Ukraine. This transition is possible only if the operational decisions of a number of issues that have long been worked out within the framework of visa-free dialogue. This applies to changes in anti-discrimination and anti-corruption legislation, as well as addressing the issue of providing free medical care to persons applying for international protection in Ukraine, and the completion of the establishment of the legal framework for registration of biometric travel documents.
If significant progress on the above issues the European Commission may decide to move to Ukraine Action Plan Implementation phase. After that decision the EU side will immediately start checking the status of implementation of the adopted legislation. Test result should be a decision on the conclusion of the Implementation phase of the Action Plan to be adopted by the European Parliament and the EU Council.
Today our country has a chance to really speed up the process of implementation of the Action Plan on visa liberalization for Ukraine in order to quickly get the decision to grant visa-free travel for our citizens in the EU.
An important aspect is the fact that Ukraine and the EU agreed to maintain the integrity of the Agreement as a single document. Sides will continue consultations, the results of which will be determined by the date and method of completion of the Agreement, in particular the signing of its trade and economic part.
In the context of a substantial deterioration of relations with the Russian Federation agreement will be an additional element in ensuring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, independence and inviolability of its borders.