The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement offers much more integration than the EU and Ukraine have been able to achieve so far, Head of the Ukraine Support Group in the European Commission, Deputy Director General of the European Commission's Directorate General for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Katarína Mathernová said.
Mathernová told Interfax-Ukraine that the European Commission officials have come a long way since the signing of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Association Agreement in 2014 with the final entry into force in 2017. The president formulated it very correctly, it is that there are huge opportunities to go even deeper, even further. This document, its political and economic part, suggests, as well as offers, much more integration than we were capable of to achieve so far.
According to her, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen sees the great potential of the Agreement, which has not yet been implemented, and invites both the Ukrainian side and their team to make much more efforts to use the existing opportunities in full.
Mathernová said that, in particular they discussed the internal market in the area of digitalization and telecommunications. The officials also discussed the fact that in the summer thet started, and Ukraine became the first country of the Eastern Partnership, cyber dialogue. As well as they started and will continue to conduct a dialogue on the so-called Green Deal. This is a forum headed by Mathernová and Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna.
The Deputy Director General of the European Commission's Directorate General for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations said the last meeting of the forum was held in Kyiv in September 2021, before that it was in Brussels, and the next round will be in Brussels, most likely in January next year. In other words, the EU plans to do this on a regular basis, so that this is a forum in which they can discuss the necessary changes that are needed for the Green Transition, as well as funding issues and so on.
She said the Energy Efficiency Fund is just one example, one project that the European Commission sees as critical to help Ukraine reduce energy dependence. According to the official, the Energy Efficiency Fund is bringing results right now. Almost 200,000 people in Ukraine have taken advantage of the opportunities provided by this fund in two years.
The head of the Ukraine Support Group in the European Commission said the Ukraine-EU summit, which took place in Kyiv on October 12, was very good. In addition, this was the first visit of President Ursula von der Leyen to Ukraine in her current position. According to Mathernová, after the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed for this reason, it was important to make this visit. She believes that it was a necessary summit that provided an opportunity to reaffirm the depth of relations between Ukraine and the EU, the commitments they have to each other and the desire to work together on a number of common initiatives.
Mathernová believes that a striking example of this is that after the signing of the Common Aviation Area Agreement at the EU-Ukraine summit, immediately, literally the next day, Wizz Air announced a direct flight between Kyiv and Brussels.
She said that is great, adding that directly during the summit, the officials also discussed deepening sectoral integration between Ukraine and the EU. Moreover, during the summit, the leaders reaffirmed their full support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.