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No Agreement At EU-Ukraine DCFTA Talks

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

22 December 2015

Representatives from the European Union (EU), Ukraine, and Russia have been unable to reach an agreement on the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA).

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkim, and the Russian Minister for Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev met on December 21 for the final round of trilateral talks on the DCFTA. The DCFTA was due to be provisionally applied from January 1, 2016.

The Commission said that since negotiations began in July 2014 it had been attentive to Russia's concerns and put forward proposals for practical solutions, albeit without amending the DCFTA itself. These proposals related to the three main areas of the talks: technical barriers to trade (TBT), sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, and customs cooperation.

The Commission added that Russia had made unsubstantiated requests that could not be accommodated because they were not in line with World Trade Organisation or EU legislation. In particular, the Commission was unable to accept Russia's request for a legally binding agreement, as this would amount to a "reopening of the bilateral agreement between the EU and Ukraine."

According to the Commission, President Putin's decision to suspend the application of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Free Trade Area (FTA) to Ukraine added an element of political pressure. It has offered to continue trilateral talks from January 1, on the condition that Russia upholds its CIS FTA obligations toward Ukraine.

Malmström said: "We spent 18 months in extensive discussions on TBT, SPS, and customs cooperation to accommodate Russia's concerns. We were ready to make the efforts needed to reach a joint understanding. Therefore, I was deeply surprised by President Putin's decree of December 16, 2015, that suspends all Russia's obligations towards Ukraine in the framework of the CIS FTA. This measure goes against the mandate, the spirit, and the objective of these talks. As has been conveyed from the beginning of the talks and reconfirmed by [European Commission] President Juncker last week the DCFTA cannot be amended – neither directly nor indirectly."

TAGS: Russia | tax | European Commission | free trade agreement (FTA) | trade treaty | agreements | legislation | trade | European Union (EU) | Ukraine | Europe

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