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Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers adopted the 2012 plan of immediate measures concerning the country’s integration to the European Union. The document deals with internal reform issues (the likes of gas transporting system modernization, institutional reform in Ukraine, and hosting EURO 2012), as well as questions of deepening Ukraine-EU ties: visa liberalization, cooperation with EU police and justice offices, expanding trade cooperation, etc.
Besides the listed domestic reforms, the document stipulates measures to enhance regional development of the country, restructuring of the national gas managing company Naftogaz, as well as preparations to the Association Agreement implementation.
Ukraine also plans to enhance cooperation with the EU in the areas of nuclear safety, research and technology, defense, space exploration. Additionally, the new document sets the agenda for creating the common airspace with the EU. According to the plan, Ukraine intends to join the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity.
Ukraine and the EU share a 1,391 kilometer long border and have established close cooperation in a number of areas. Ukraine is EU’s strategic gas transit partner. Its gas transporting system services 70% of the Russian gas export to Europe. The EU is one of Ukraine’s key trade partners with the trade volume in 2011 constituting USD 44 billion and demonstrating a 36% growth.
European integration has been a long-term foreign policy goal for Ukraine. The country began negotiations with the EU in 1999. Various officials of the EU member states, including Czech Republic, Finland, and Lithuania, backed Ukraine’s European ambition.
By 2007 the sides agreed to eventually sign the Association Agreement. After 21 rounds of negotiations over the Association Agreement, Ukraine and the EU finalized the negotiating process on December 19, 2011.
The Association Agreement will regulate political cooperation of the partners, as well as introduce the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between Ukraine and the EU. Initialing of the political and, partly, economical sections of the document took place in Brussels on March 30, 2012.
Currently the sides are working on the technical aspects of the document preparation for signing and further ratification. Meanwhile, the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych stated that Ukraine perceived the Association Agreement as comprehensive program of reforms.