The German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung writes today that the EU is ready to accept that large swathes of the 1,500-page long free trade deal signed this spring with Ukraine will not come into force.
On September 12, officials from Ukraine, Russia and the EU held a meeting to reach a compromise over Moscow’ concerns about how the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) that forms part of Kyiv’s Association Agreement with Brussels might harm its economy and its exports to Ukraine. Talks over the issue were launched in the early summer.
Borderlex has been able to obtain some more precise information on Russia’s demands, which Moscow has taken a long time to table. Russia wants that about 2,300 tariff lines be exempted from liberalisation. These cover a wide range of goods, but the focus is strongly on agricultural goods, textiles, industrial goods and machine tools.
Russia is also pushing for the DCFTA’s stipulation that Soviet-era technical standards (GOST) be phased out to not be implemented, and that both EU and GOST standards can coexist in Ukraine. It also does not want Ukrainian institutions to become a member of EU standardisation bodies. Further, it wants the DCFTA’s requirement that Ukraine align all its sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) to he EU’s be abandoned altogether, and that SPS matters be coordinated with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union.
Sueddeutsche says that many of these demands will be met and texts added as annexes to the existing deal.
The Munich-based paper says that the move is a means to show readiness to compromise with Russia as the next round of tough EU sanctions against Moscow is being enacted September 12. It also writes that the move is largely driven by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Two weeks ago European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht signalled that the EU was open to discussing standards implementation issues in the DCFTA, but that the actual text would not be renegotiated.
The EU Parliament is set to ratify the DCFTA next week.
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