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EU-Ukraine summit: Moving forward together

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On 12 October, at the 23rd EU-Ukraine Summit in Kyiv, the European Union and Ukraine reaffirmed their strong partnership and commitment to strengthening the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the European Union.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and High Representative/Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell represented the European Union alongside Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The European Union and Ukraine agreed on a Joint Statement, demonstrating the richness of the bilateral agenda.

President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The European Union attaches the utmost importance to its relations with Ukraine. Together we have built a special partnership, based on mutual solidarity and friendship. We share a commitment to strengthening the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the European Union and progress has been made in many areas. We will continue to work together on the untapped opportunities that the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement has to offer. This, alongside continued unity on sanctions, shows the EU's commitment to Ukraine – one that remains unwavering”.

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High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell added: “The EU is Ukraine's strongest and most reliable strategic partner. At today's summit we also reconfirm the EU's continued political support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as non-recognition policy of the illegal annexation of Crimea. The EU will continue to stand firm in its support the implementation of the Minsk agreements.”

Read the full remarks of President von der Leyen at the joint press conference here.

In the margins of the Summit, the European Union and Ukraine made progress in a number of key sectors of cooperation, with three new important agreements.

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Signing of a milestone aviation agreement

The European Union and Ukraine signed a comprehensive air transport agreement, opening the way for a ‘Common Aviation Area' between the EU and Ukraine, based on common high standards in important areas such as aviation safety, security and air traffic management. It will foster market access and offer new opportunities for consumers and airlines on both sides.

Ukraine is an increasingly important aviation market for the EU, since it was the 13th largest extra-EU market in 2019, with 9.8 million passengers. Air transport for passengers, as well as for cargo between Ukraine and the EU, has been growing steadily in recent years. This trend was only interrupted during the COVID crisis.

The agreement signed today aims to gradually open the respective aviation markets and integrate Ukraine into a wider European Common Aviation Area. Ukraine will further align its legislation with EU aviation rules and standards in areas such as aviation safety, air traffic management, security, the environment, economic regulation, competition, consumer protection and social aspects.

Today's Agreement is expected to offer new air transport opportunities, more direct connections and economic benefits to both sides:

  • All EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights from anywhere in the EU to any airport in Ukraine, and vice versa for Ukrainian airlines.
  • All limitations and restrictions on flights between Ukraine and the EU will be removed and the provisions on open and fair competition will guarantee a level playing field.

The Agreement will facilitate people-to-people contacts and expand commercial opportunities and trade between the EU and Ukraine. It will also be a valuable instrument in the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and, in particular, the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.

While the Agreement still needs to be ratified by both sides before formally entering into force, it will start to apply from today's signature.

Association of Ukraine to Horizon Europe

The Summit also provided the opportunity to finalise the association of Ukraine to Horizon Europe, the EU research and innovation programme for 2021-2027, as well as the Euratom Research and Training Programme for 2021-2025. Ukrainian researchers and innovators can now participate in those two programmes, with a budget of €95.5 billion and €1.38bn respectively, under the same conditions as entities from EU member states. This co-operation in science, research and innovation further strengthens the alliance between the EU and Ukraine to deliver on common priorities, such as the twin green and digital transition. Horizon Europe is one of the main tools to implement Europe's strategy for international cooperation: Europe's global approach to cooperation in research and innovation. The programme is open to researchers and innovators from around the world, who can team up with EU partners in preparing proposals.

Association of Ukraine to Creative Europe

During the Summit, the association of Ukraine to Creative Europe, the EU programme to support the cultural and creative sectors for the period for 2021-2027, was also finalised. The new Creative Europe programme continues to support and promote cultural heritage, creativity, internationalisation, professionalisation, innovation and competitiveness of the cultural and creative sectors. Ukrainian cultural and creative organizations can now participate in Europe's flagship €2.44bn programme, under the same conditions as entities from EU member states.

More information

EU-Ukraine relations factsheet

EU Delegation in Ukraine website

European Commission Support Group for Ukraine website

International aviation relations of the EU

Ukraine

The challenge for Elon Musk

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A group of Ukrainian scientists has developed a unique bio battery with self charging capability, and successfully tested new unique bioaccumulators that have the ability to self-charge without an external energy source. In the experimental model, self-charging was repeated 20 times, with the sensational results of a successful experiment published in the international journal Batteries. 

Compared to modern electric vehicles with a range of 500-600 km, such bioaccumulators will provide the ability to travel without recharging 14,000 km. A self-recharging biobattery will be able to supply energy to an apartment building for a long time. The unique ability of the bioaccumulator to self-charge is able to make a revolutionary breakthrough in the energy market in strategic areas: shipping, railways, aviation and aerospace, namely in the programs of research of the Moon and Mars.

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Ukraine

EU support for reforms in Ukraine is ineffective in fighting corruption

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The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has found EU support for reforms in Ukraine ineffective in fighting grand corruption. EU Reporter spoke to the lead auditor on this report Juhan Parts on his conclusions and what it means for the EU’s continuing support. 

Where there is endemic corruption in a country or society, leading to widespread petty corruption, Parts says it is necessary to look at higher and more structural explanations. 

“Despite varied support the EU has offered to Ukraine, oligarchs and vested interests continue to undermine the rule of law and to threaten the country’s development,” said  Parts. “Ukraine needs a focused and efficient strategy to tackle the power of oligarchs and diminish state capture. The EU can play a much more significant role than it has done so far.

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“Grand corruption and state capture by oligarchs hinder competition and growth, but they also harm the democratic process. The court estimates that tens of billions of euros are lost annually as a result of corruption.” 

The EU is certainly aware of the problem and has made it a cross-cutting priority, channelling funds and efforts through a variety of sectors, including competition policy, the environment, and of course the judiciary and civil society. However, the auditors found that the financial support and measures put in place have failed to deliver. 

Despite being aware of the connections between oligarchs, high-level officials, politicians, the judiciary and state-owned enterprises, the report finds the EU hasn’t developed a real strategy for targeting this sort of systemic corruption. Auditors give the example of money laundering, which is dealt with only at the margins and where EU states could take a stronger lead. 

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The auditors acknowledge some of the EU’s efforts, for example, in its help for the creation of a High Anti-Corruption Court, which has started to show promising results and a National Anti-Corruption Bureau, but these achievements are constantly at risk with organizations still struggling to make their presence felt and the entire system remains very fragile.

Parts says that there is very strong support in Ukraine for reforms and that we should look at the changes in countries like the Baltics and other EU countries who have made major reforms and have experienced much higher levels of growth relative to Ukraine in the same period. 

The ECA has made seven recommendations. Parts says that there is a willingness to take on these recommendations and make the necessary changes.

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Russia

Ukraine seethes as Putin's party courts voters in separatist-held Donbass

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Russian and separatist flags flutter in the air as lively music blares and soldiers from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic sit listening to speeches. Members of the Russian nationalist Night Wolves motorcycle club mill around nearby, write Alexander Ermochenko, Sergiy Karazy in Kyiv and Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow.

Russia will hold parliamentary elections on 17-19 September and for the first time, United Russia, the ruling party that supports President Vladimir Putin, is campaigning in eastern Ukraine on territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.

Up for grabs are the votes of more than 600,000 people who were given Russian passports after a Kremlin policy change in 2019 that Ukraine decried as a step towards annexation.

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"I will vote for sure, and only for United Russia because I think with them we will join the Russian Federation," said Elena, 39, from Khartsysk in the Donetsk region.

"Our children will study according to the Russian curriculum, our salaries will be according to Russian standards, and actually we will live in Russia," she said, speaking at a United Russia rally in the city of Donetsk.

In 2014, after street protests ousted Ukraine's Kremlin-friendly president Viktor Yanukovich, Russia swiftly annexed another part of Ukraine, the Crimean Peninsula. Pro-Russian separatists then rose up across eastern Ukraine, in what Kyiv and its Western allies called a Moscow-backed land grab.

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More than 14,000 people have died in fighting between separatists and Ukrainian forces, with deadly clashes continuing regularly despite a ceasefire that ended large scale combat in 2015.

Two self-proclaimed "People's Republics" run the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in a part of eastern Ukraine known as the Donbass. Moscow has cultivated close links to the separatists but denies orchestrating their rebellions.

In Donetsk, election billboards with images of Russian landmarks such as Moscow's St Basil's Cathedral are dotted around. The Russian rouble has supplanted the Ukrainian hryvnia. Kyiv, meanwhile, is furious at Russia staging an election on separatist-held territory.

"There is a total 'Russification' of this region going full steam ahead," Oleskiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's security and defence council, told Reuters in Kyiv.

"The other question is why is the world not reacting to this? Why should they recognise this State Duma?" he said in an interview in Kyiv, referring to the Russian parliament's lower house that will be chosen in the vote.

Russia says there is nothing unusual about people with dual Russian and Ukrainian nationality voting in a Russian election.

Donbass residents with Russian passports were entitled to vote "wherever they live", Russia's TASS news agency quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Aug. 31.

Kyiv and Moscow accuse each other of blocking a permanent peace in the Donbass. A mass mobilisation of Russian forces near Ukraine's border earlier this year caused alarm in the West.

Across Russia itself, United Russia is expected to win the parliamentary election, as it has never failed to do in the Putin era, despite opinion poll ratings that have sagged lately over stagnant living standards. Opposition groups say their candidates have been denied access to the ballot, jailed, intimidated or pushed into exile, and they anticipate fraud. Russia says the vote will be fair.

Although the Donbass is small when compared with the overall Russian electorate, the ruling party's overwhelming support there could be enough to secure extra seats.

"Obviously United Russia's rating there is much higher and the protest vote is much lower there than across (Russia) on average," said Abbas Gallyamov, a former Kremlin speech writer turned political analyst.

"That's why they are mobilizing Donbass."

Yevhen Mahda, a Kyiv-based political analyst, said Russia was letting Donbass residents vote not only to boost United Russia, but to legitimise the separatist administrations.

"Russia, I would put it this way, with great cynicism, is exploiting the fact that most of the people living there have nowhere to go to get help, nobody to rely on, and often a Russian passport was the only way out of the desperate situation that people found themselves in on occupied territories."

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