Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine

Ukraine and the EU

16/05/2016 - 19:06
EU relations with Country

This page highlights the key aspects of political, economic and trade relations between the European Union (EU) and Ukraine, as well as financial assistance programmes in place and the role of civil society in steering the relations into the future.

Ukraine is a priority partner for the EU.

With the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA) including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) signed in 2014 and in force since 2017 after being provisionally applied, our relations have achieved an unprecedented level of closeness. The AA/DCFTA is the blueprint for Ukraine’s ambitious reform agenda kicked-off with the 2013-2014 Maidan and for the EU’s support. It is based on shared values and commitment to respect for democratic principles, the rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Our common goal is further economic integration and political association between Ukraine and the EU. During the five years since the Euromaidan Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine has taken essential steps in implementing complex reforms. Our partnership is built on the principle that as long as Ukraine keeps reforming at an unprecedented level, the EU keeps supporting at an unprecedented level. Since 2014, this has meant yearly funds of up to € 200 million mobilised from the bilateral pillar of the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), for a stronger economy, stronger governance and stronger society in Ukraine.

On 1 September 2017, the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement came into full force. The Association Agreement, including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) part, is the main tool for bringing Ukraine and the EU closer together. The DCFTA offers Ukraine a framework for modernising its trade relations and for economic development by opening up markets and harmonising laws, standards and regulations in various sectors. This will help align key sectors of the Ukrainian economy with EU standards.

The DCFTA has been provisionally applied since 1 January 2016, constituting a major milestone in bilateral trade relations and offering new economic opportunities to both the EU and Ukraine. Ukrainian businesses receive stable and predictable preferential access to the largest market in the world, with over 500 million consumers. EU businesses are able to benefit from easier access to the Ukrainian market and build new relationships with Ukrainian suppliers and partners.

On 1 October 2017 the additional autonomous trade measures of the EU for Ukraine entered into force. The EU regulation on the measures tops up the quantities of agricultural products that Ukraine can export to the EU under the Association Agreement without paying customs duties. It also accelerates the elimination of EU import tariffs for several industrial products, as foreseen in the Association Agreement.

Snapshot of trade statistics


The concrete results of implementation of the DCFTA can already be seen: Ukrainian exports to the EU has never been higher than in 2018, there is also a significant increase in EU exports to Ukraine.  


EU28 trade in goods with Ukraine (in million €)

ALL goods







TOTAL trade







EU28  Imports







EU28  Exports







EU28  Balance







Source: Eurostat


The EU remained Ukraine’s main trading partner, representing 42% of Ukraine’s total trade, with a similar split between imports and exports. Total trade between the EU and Ukraine reached about €40 billion in 2018, an increase of close to 9% when compared to 2017. Ukraine is EU’s 21st largest trading partner.


In 2018, Ukraine mainly exported base metals and articles thereof (21.9% of total), vegetable products (18.9%), mineral products (15.0%), machinery and appliances (11.8%). Ukraine’s export profile is now more diversified than a decade ago when 70% of exports consisted on vegetable products, base metals and mineral products. Today, other categories such as animal products, foodstuff and machinery products, feature much more prominently on the export list. Footwear and articles of stone, although still relatively low have seen exports increasing by more than 50% over the last 10 years.




Foreign trade and investments are vitally important for both the Ukrainian and the EU economies, in terms of growth and jobs, lower prices, better quality and greater choice for consumers through increased competition, and so on. Unfortunately, foreign direct investment remains low, pointing to the need to improve the business climate and encourage investment, in particular through enforcement of the rule of law and the fight against corruption. According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, the volume of direct investment (equity capital) into Ukraine's economy from the EU countries as of 31 December 2018 totalled USD 24.7 billion. The main investor-countries are Cyprus - USD 8.9 billion (35.9 % of the total volume of investment from the EU), Netherlands - USD 7.1 billion (28.5%), United Kingdom - USD 2 billion (7.9%), Germany - USD 1.7 billion (6.7%), Austria - USD 1 billion (4.1%) and France - USD 0.6 billion (2.6%).  Significant volumes of direct investment from the EU countries are concentrated in industrial enterprises (34.4%), enterprises of wholesale and retail trade, repair of vehicles and motorcycles have accumulated 13.8% of direct investment, organizations carrying out transactions with real estate 12.8% and financial and insurance institutions have accumulated 10.5%.


More information on EU trade agreements - European Commission’s annual report on the implementation of trade agreements -

The EU support to Ukraine under the European Neighbourhood Instrument, is coordinated by the European Commission’s Support Group for Ukraine (SGUA). Together with the EU Delegation to Ukraine , SGUA develops support programmes for key reform areas (e.g. for decentralisation, the fight against corruption or strengthening the rule of law) which are often co-financed and implemented by EU Member States. The EU also supports the Ukrainian civil society through grants from different financial instruments, through contributions to the European Endowment for Democracy and a steady dialogue that informs our policymaking.

Over the last years, Ukraine has gained access to different European Union programmes, becoming for instance the frontrunner of Erasmus+ among the Eastern Partnership countries; becoming fully associated to the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation; and taking part in the Creative Europe programme supporting the cultural, creative and audio-visual sectors.

The EU also cooperates with Ukraine in the framework of the eastern regional dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Eastern Partnership.


Bilateral Cooperation

The EU supports Ukraine through a variety of instruments.

Overall, the EU and Financial Institutions (European Investment Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) have mobilised between 2014 and today over € 13 billion in loans and € 2 billion in grants to help Ukraine stabilise its economy, carry out comprehensive reforms and improve the lives of its citizens. This includes substantial bilateral financial and technical assistance under the European Neighbourhood Instrument (over € 1.4 billion). Ukraine benefits from Twinning and TAIEX, and, beyond bilateral support, from ENI regional and multi-country Action Programmes for the Eastern Partnership countries. In addition to the Chornobyl Shelter Fund, support is provided via the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC II) 2014-2020. Furthermore, the EU mobilised via four programmes a total of € 4.41 billion in macro-financial assistance for Ukraine, paid upon the fulfilment of reform conditions.

Finally, since 2017, a € 50 million comprehensive support programme for government-controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions is in place. It aims at strengthening good governance and decentralisation, supports economic revitalisation and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), increases community security and social cohesion, fosters the regional health care system, supports displaced universities and assists with tackling the infrastructural disconnect. The programme was recently topped-up by € 10 million and expanded to support the Sea of Azov region.

Investments are channelled to Ukraine via the EU External Investment Plan, notably the Neighbourhood Investment Platform. Since 2014, over € 180 million has been channelled through the NIP to Ukraine for the support to infrastructure financing in fields such as transport, water/sanitation, energy efficiency, environment as well as SME funding and local currency lending.

Loans amounting to € 4.6 billion have been mobilised by the European Investment Bank since 2014 to support infrastructure development and reforms in the transport, energy, agriculture, education and municipal sectors, as well as for SME development in Ukraine. Investment worth € 4 billion from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has been mobilised since 2014 to help develop and reform, inter alia, the banking sector, agribusiness, transport and small businesses.

Via the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) Ukraine, Ukraine-based international experts mainly from EU Member States assist Ukraine with the reform of the civilian security sector.

Find the latest opportunities from the EU-Ukraine cooperation here and here.


Overview of post-Maidan EU support to Ukraine     

Civil society organisations in Ukraine - EU partners in dialogue and advancing reforms

The EU acknowledges the important role of civil society in transformation processes in Ukraine. Civil society is a critical governance actor and a driver for reforms. In Ukraine it has proven a reliable interlocutor for the EU and partner governments, and a vehicle for the voice of citizens.

We aim to make our support more predictable to potential civil society partners and increased impact of our financial support to civil society organisations by:

• Expanding the range of actors we engage with;

• Supporting civil society in policy dialogue with governments and in participation to the delivery of sector interventions;

• Building technical expertise, leadership within civil society as well as better links to constituencies;

• Engaging in strategic partnerships with organisations that have the knowledge and the capacity to engage with smaller organisations and support the healthy growth of civil society;

• Making available fast mechanisms for intervention

Financial support to capacity development, enabling environment and engagement in policy dialogue of civil society organisations represents indicatively 5% of the total EU financial assistance allocated to Ukraine (2014 – 2020). This makes the EU one of the top sources of funding for civil society support. The European Union regularly publishes Calls for Proposals and invites interested CSOs and partners to regularly follow announcements made on the EuropeAid website. A number of additional support tools are made available through the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility and EU Prostir.

EU Country Roadmap for Engagement with Civil Society in Ukraine

In 2018 the EU Delegation, together with EU countries and in consultation with civil society and national authorities, renewed the EU Country Roadmap for Engagement with Civil Society in Ukraine. The Roadmap reflects EU's ambitions to support civil society in Ukraine to be recognised as a legitimate partner in policy and sector reform dialogue with the Ukrainian government, in ensuring an enabling environment for civil society organisations and in supporting organisations build their own capacities.

The EU also helps Ukraine deal with the humanitarian, social and economic consequences of the conflict in the country’s eastern regions. Having provided in total over € 402 million since the start of the conflict, the EU and its Member States are together the biggest humanitarian donor, addressing the needs of people in the areas directly affected by the conflict, the internally displaced people and refugees who have fled the conflict areas, and the returnees. The EU furthermore provides support for early recovery and co-funds the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, to which the EU and its Member States have been the biggest contributor so far, providing about two thirds of both the mission's budget and monitors.

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