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October 28, 2013 01:04
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Polish experts: EU must act if it wants to see wealthier and more democratic Ukraine

‘Signing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in Vilnius on 29th November would send a clear signal that Ukraine has a real alternative partner in the west – and that Brussels means business,’ experts of the Polish Institute of the Foreign Affairs (PISM) Piotr Koscinski and Maya Rostowska say in their guest post for Financial Times blog beyondbrics.

For Poland there are several more pragmatic reasons than just feeling of Slavic entity for aiming to have Ukrainian association agreement with EU signed. Those reasons are equally important for EU.

“First, it is good to have a wealthy neighbour. Without cooperation with Europe, Ukraine will not become richer. Remaining in the “grey zone” or joining the Customs Union proposed by Russia will not help the economic situation in the country,” experts claim.

An association agreement with the EU, on the other hand, would be an important step towards boosting trade and modernising Ukraine’s economy, thus increasing income and growth. The deal would provide Ukrainian companies with better access to the EU market and increase European FDI into Ukraine. By harmonizing standards, it would also improve Ukrainian companies’ chances of becoming part of global value chains and increase competition – and consumer choice – on the domestic market. Various models have indicated that long-term cumulative welfare gains for Ukraine could range from 5 to 10 per cent, the experts say.

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As they admit, a wealthier Ukraine will not only improve living standards at home, it will also increase the purchasing power of a 45m-strong consumer base on the EU’s doorstep. And with demand declining in the common market, that is important not only for Poland but also for the EU as a whole.

Experts admit that it’s good to have a neighbour who functions on the basis of democratic principles and the rule of law. “At a time of continuing economic uncertainty in Europe, stability in the EU neighbourhood is more vital than ever,” they underscore.

“If the EU wants to see the benefits associated with a wealthier and more democratic Ukraine, it must act – and fast. Proponents of the Russian-Kazakh-Belarusian Customs Union are running a proactive public relations campaign in Kiev and working to steer Ukrainian foreign policy towards the east. Signing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in Vilnius on 29th November would send a clear signal that Ukraine has a real alternative partner in the west – and that Brussels means business,” Piotr Koscinski and Maya Rostowska say.


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