European Council conclusions on Ukraine (21/03/2014)

Approved by the European Council on 20 March 2014

1. The European Union supports the Ukrainian people and their right to choose their own future. The European Union stands by the Ukrainian government in its efforts to stabilise Ukraine and undertake reforms. In this context the European Union will pursue further efforts with the international community to assist Ukraine.

2. The European Union, its Member States and Ukraine will sign the political provisions of the Association Agreement. The European Union and its Member States are committed to sign the remainder of the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, which together with the political provisions constitute a single instrument. The European Council agrees that the first meeting in the political dialogue as envisaged under the Agreement should take place in April. The European Council urges the Council and the European Parliament to swiftly adopt the proposal for temporarily removing customs duties, so called Autonomous Trade measures, on Ukrainian exports to the European Union.

3. Restoring macroeconomic stability in Ukraine is an immediate priority. The Ukrainian government needs to embark swiftly on an ambitious programme of structural reforms, including the fight against corruption and enhancing transparency of all fiscal operations. The European Council urges the Council to rapidly agree on macro-financial assistance and underlines that an agreement with the IMF is critical to enable this assistance. EU Member States agree to coordinate their positions in the IMF regarding the conditions for assistance to Ukraine. The European Council welcomes the establishment of a focal point for coordination of efforts which should underpin the structural transition in Ukraine with participation of the international community and international financial institutions.

4. The European Union commends the measured response shown so far by Ukraine. The European Council welcomes the Ukrainian government's commitment to ensure the representative nature and inclusiveness of governmental structures, reflecting regional diversity, to ensure the full protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, to undertake constitutional reform, to investigate all human rights violations and acts of violence and to fight extremism. In this context the European Union encourages the government of Ukraine to ensure that the Presidential election on 25 May will be free and fair.

5. The European Union remains committed to uphold the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The European Council does not recognise the illegal referendum in Crimea, which is in clear violation of the Ukrainian Constitution. It strongly condemns the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol to the Russian Federation and will not recognise it. The European Council asks the Commission to evaluate the legal consequences of the annexation of Crimea and to propose economic, trade and financial restrictions regarding Crimea for rapid implementation.

6. In the light of this and in the absence of any steps towards de-escalation the European Council agrees to expand the list of individuals to be subject to visa ban and asset freeze. The European Council decides to cancel the next EU-Russia Summit and notes that Member States will not hold bilateral regular summits for the time being. In addition, the European Council and the Member States support the upcoming G7 countries' meeting in The Hague. They also support the suspension of negotiations over Russia's joining the OECD and IEA.

7. The European Council firmly believes that there is no place for the use of force and coercion to change borders in Europe in the 21st century. The Russian actions are in clear breach of the Helsinki process, which in the past 40 years has contributed to overcoming divisions in Europe and building a peaceful and united continent. The European Council deplores that Russia has still not taken steps to de-escalate the crisis and that negotiations between Ukraine and the Russian Federation have still not started. It urges that an agreement be promptly reached on an OSCE mission to be deployed in Ukraine as soon as possible, in order to help stabilise the situation. In that context, the European Council asks the High Representative to urgently draw up plans for an EU contribution to facilitate the work of the OSCE mission. In the absence of an agreement in the coming days on a credible OSCE mission, the EU will draw up an EU mission.

8. The European Union has a special responsibility for peace and stability in Europe. It will remain at the forefront of efforts to facilitate and engage in a meaningful dialogue involving Ukraine and Russia, including through the establishment of a multilateral mechanism, with a view to finding a political solution.

9. The European Council recalls that any further steps by the Russian Federation to destabilise the situation in Ukraine would lead to additional and far reaching consequences for relations in a broad range of economic areas between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and the Russian Federation, on the other hand. In this respect, the European Council asks the Commission and the Member States to prepare possible targeted measures.

10. The European Union reconfirms its objective to further strengthen the political association and economic integration with Georgia and the Republic of Moldova. We confirm our aim to sign the Association Agreements, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas, which we initialled in Vilnius last November, no later than June 2014.