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EU-Ukraine Association Agreement

Volume 583: debated on Thursday 26 June 2014

I wish to inform the House that the Government have opted in to the following measure:

Council decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, and provisional application, of the association agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their member states, of the one part, and Ukraine, of the other part, as regards titles III, IV, V, VI and VII of the agreement as well as the related annexes and protocols.

On 17 October 2013, Official Report, column 66WS, I informed the House that we had opted in to a previous version of this Council decision. In November 2013 former President Yanukovych decided not to pursue signature of the association agreement. This decision resulted in unrest in Ukraine, and in February 2014 a new interim President was appointed. The political titles of the agreement were signed at a European Council on 21 March 2014. That part of the agreement did not include provisions covered by title V of the TFEU and therefore did not trigger the UK’s JHA opt-in. Following successful presidential elections in May 2014, President Poroshenko confirmed his intention to sign the association agreement. The above new decision has since been brought forward to enable signature of the remaining titles of the agreement.

The EU-Ukraine association agreement constitutes a reform agenda for Ukraine, based around a comprehensive programme to align their legislation more closely to EU norms, focusing on support to core reforms including economic recovery and growth, governance and co- operation in a wide range of sectors. This will help to ensure a stable and prosperous region on the edge of the European Union, which is in the UK’s national interest.

The Council decisions approving the EU’s signature and conclusion of the EU-Ukraine association agreement give approval to the EU to sign and conclude provisions covered by title V of the TFEU, in particular, in respect of provisions related to the temporary presence of natural persons for business—mode 4—and to the readmission of persons. The UK’s Justice and Home Affairs opt-in has been triggered as a result. The Government have decided that it is in the UK’s best interests to opt in to these Council decisions.

When making this decision, the Government took into consideration that the UK already participates in the existing readmission agreement between the EU and Ukraine and as such it is appropriate that we now opt in to the new provisions which require the parties to ensure the full implementation of that agreement.

The mode 4 provisions are in line with the EU’s Doha round offer to the World Trade Organisation and are subject to rigorous safeguards, including minimum skills levels.