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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
News article11 February 2021Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

Remarks by Commissioner Várhelyi at the press conference after the EU‑Ukraine Association Council

Thank you very much High Representative, Prime Minister [Denys Shmyhal], welcome. I want to highlight  our continued and active engagement with Ukraine, which demonstrates the seriousness and commitment in  our relationship. I already had the...

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Thank you very much High Representative, Prime Minister [Denys Shmyhal], welcome. I want to highlight our continued and active engagement with Ukraine, which demonstrates the seriousness and commitment in our relationship. I already had the opportunity yesterday to have a bilateral meeting with the Prime minister, today we had the Association Council.

And just to flag our continued support. We have responded in solidarity with Ukraine following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have mobilised swiftly in direct support €190 million to Ukraine and we also provided €1.2 billion Macro-Financial Assistance to help Ukraine in the economy and macro-finances to cope with this crisis. From that we have already disbursed €600 million and we are supposed to disburse a second tranche still this year.

I have some good news when it comes to the vaccines because I guess this is something everybody is looking at right now. And we are happy that the COVAX initiative should be able together with our help to deliver 117,000 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines to Ukraine and we are also looking at some additional vaccines coming from the AstraZeneca company.

We are looking also at other ways how to help Ukraine in obtaining further vaccines through the vaccine-sharing mechanism we are establishing together with our Member States.

And today, we are also launching an additional project together with the World Health Organisation (WHO) – worth €40 million - supporting Eastern partner countries, including Ukraine, to organise and establish the vaccination campaigns, meaning creating the infrastructure for the vaccination, be it the cold chains, be it the other equipment necessary for actually implementing and jabbing the people.

Substantive part of the meeting today focused on reforms, many of those have been mentioned already, and their implementation. We see that the Government of Ukraine continued to take a number of very important steps across the board. This is very welcome, but we need to see further progress. This includes in particular the need for the reform of the judiciary, we are ready to continue to help Ukraine in this regard.

We have also discussed the implementation of the Association Agreement. We have agreed to continue to enhance the sectorial cooperation, especially when it comes to digital and telecommunications.

We are continuing our work on climate and environment and in particular how Ukraine and the EU could cooperate on the European green deal, to be extended to Ukraine.

And we are ready to take forward our work on digital and on mutual recognition of electronic trust services.

We also continue to support the public administration reform in Ukraine. I am pleased that last night with we signed a letter of intent to launch a cooperation with the College of Europe Natolin, a project by which Ukrainian civil servants will get training in European studies.

And finally, I want to mention an issue that is close to my heart, the rights of people belonging to national minorities. At the meeting I reiterated the need for Ukraine to ensure the respect for the rights of national minorities, and to launch a substantive dialogue with the representatives of minorities

This also goes for the Law on National Minorities, which is still under preparation and we expect that this law will address all open issues of previous legislation on state language and education.

And in light of threats or actions to representatives of national minorities we also expect the authorities to duly address them, but we got confirmation from the Prime Minister that they are committed to protect the minorities.

Thank you.

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