On 8 December, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, and EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, held a conference call with the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal. They discussed EU-Ukraine cooperation, the implementation of the Association Agreement and continuing reform efforts in Ukraine. Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Olga Stefanishyna, also participated in the call.
Josep Borrell recalled that the EU and Ukraine share a commitment to strengthening Ukraine’s political association and economic integration with the European Union. He welcomed that the EU and Ukraine have been able to maintain active bilateral cooperation despite the current health restrictions, as demonstrated by a successful Summit in October. Commissioner Várhelyi assured that the EU would continue helping Ukraine to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, as well as to pursue reforms and implement the Association Agreement, which is already bringing significant benefits to business and citizens in Ukraine and in the EU. The High Representative/Vice-President and the Commissioner added that the EU is looking into deepening sectoral cooperation with Ukraine, including on the green and digital agendas, and will continue to support Ukraine’s strategic orientation towards closer integration with the European Union. The importance of respecting democracy, the rule of law and human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, was also stressed.
Acknowledging Ukraine’s progress on the reform path despite Russia's destabilising actions and conflict in the East, as well as the challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the High Representative/Vice-President and the Commissioner urged Ukraine to continue efforts related to strengthening the rule of law and the fight against corruption. They underlined that robust judicial reform remains a vital part of these efforts. Recalling the need to address issues raised by the recent decisions of the Constitutional Court (CCU), the High Representative underlined the importance of restoring criminal liability for false declarations. He noted that the recently-voted law on asset declarations, even if a step in the right direction in addressing the CCU decision of 27 October 2020, has several deficiencies and does not produce the necessary deterrent and corruption prevention effect. The EU is ready to assist Ukraine in this process.
High Representative/Vice-President Borrell reiterated that the EU continues to stand by Ukraine in supporting its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity including through a strong non-recognition policy relating to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.
Both the High Representative/Vice-President and the Commissioner looked forward to welcoming the Ukrainian Prime Minister to Brussels. Together with the Prime Minister, they agreed to hold the next EU-Ukraine Association Council on 11 February.