EU Commissioner: Ukraine still far from EU membership; bloc should encourage aspirations

Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner-designate for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said at hearings of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday that it’s necessary to provide Ukraine with all possible support in overcoming its crisis.

When asked if he personally wants Ukraine to become the bloc’s member, Hahn answered he was “rather pragmatic” about Ukraine, referring to Ukrainians’ aspirations, reports. He added that Poroshenko was taking a “realistic approach” to the EU integration process, telling Ukrainians that there are many reforms to be undertaken. “We are far away, both in time and substance” from Ukrainian membership, he said, but the bloc should “recognise and encourage Ukrainians’ aspirations to come closer to the EU”.

When Rebecca Harms (Germany, Greens) warned of a ‘frozen conflict’ in eastern Ukraine and, secondly, about the lessons that the EU had learnt about corruption that it could apply in Ukraine. Hahn expressed hopes that the EU was on the right track” with the peace plan of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. He noted, though, the infringements to ceasefire. He says that “as Europeans, there can be no middle ground”, stating that Ukraine’s territorial integrity needs to be maintained. About corruption, he refers to the 50-or-so specific reforms envisaged by Poroshenko.

“We must support the fundamental right of Ukraine and its people to make their strategic choice,” he said.

He said his “first priority” in office will be to help solve the Ukraine crisis.

The EU’s next neighbourhood commissioner was tougher than expected on Russia, Euobserver reports.

“I also want to move forward in our relations with Russia, but Russia should not underestimate the European Union’s resolve to stand by its principles … until [Ukraine’s] territorial integrity has been restored, we can’t make any concessions to Russia”.

Johannes Hahn said the bloc should maintain sanctions and that Moscow has no right to veto its neighbours’ decisions.


Ukraine has received a note from the European Union in which the EU announced the completion of its internal procedures for the application of the Association Agreement, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Facebook on Tuesday.

“Thus, Kyiv and Brussels have completed all formalities for launching the agreement from November 1. Consequently, it is now part of Ukrainian legislation. Let’s get to work!” he wrote.

Earlier, the director of the information policy department at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Yevhen Perebyinis, said that the Ukrainian side handed over an instrument of ratification of the Association Agreement to the depositary of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union.

“Thus, Ukraine has completed all internal state procedures for the entry into force of the agreement,” he said at a briefing on Tuesday.

As it was reported before , on September 16, the Verkhovna Rada and the European Parliament simultaneously ratified the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. The agreement has already been ratified by Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Malta and Slovakia.

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