EU-Ukraine Association Council held its third meeting in Brussels on December 19, 2016. The council is a body established to oversee the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. Joint press statement includes environmental issues, yet it’s too early to see progress in this area.
Two environmental issues, among those raised in the joint statement, are of particular interest. First, the Association Council stressed “the importance of a continuous dialogue on the inclusion of inland waterways of Ukraine in the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), based on progress to be made by Ukraine as regards compliance with international environmental conventions”. This obviously refers to Ukrainian Danube-Black Sea canal and problems regarding compliance with the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (the Espoo Convention). Ukraine aims at developing its presence by competing with Romanian canals. Violations of the Espoo Convention during the construction of the canal are a key counter-argument by Romania, which shapes the EC on this issue. Second, Ukraine and the EU agreed “on the need for rapid adoption of pending legislation in Ukraine relating to good environmental governance”. This refers to draft laws on environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment, vetoed by the President of Ukraine and therefore pending re-consideration by the Parliament. Note, no concerns was expressed by the EU – a clear indication that environment remains a low priority for the EU’s cooperation agenda with Ukraine.