On 5 February 2009 Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner will participate in the EU-Ukraine Foreign Ministers' Troika in Prague. The Ukrainian side will be represented by Foreign Minister, Volodomyr Ohryzko. The Troika will cover a range of bilateral issues and issues of common concern including developments in the region, the Eastern Partnership, the state of play on negotiations towards an Association Agreement as well as energy.
"This is a valuable opportunity to discuss foreign policy matters and review EU-Ukraine relations in the light of recent developments such as the global financial crisis, the gas dispute as well as progress achieved in negotiations on an EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. Ukraine needs to increase its efforts on political and economic reforms – too much time has been lost due to internal problems. At the same time I am looking forward to providing our Ukrainian partners with more information on the planned Eastern Partnership which will allow for further deepening of our bilateral relationship and increased exchange between the countries in our Eastern neighbourhood on a wide range of topics. I hope that Ukraine will profit from the opportunities offered by this initiative and become an active partner in the Eastern Partnership once it is launched." said Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner on the eve of the meeting.
She added: "The upcoming international investment conference on the rehabilitation and modernization of Ukraine's gas transit system which will be co-chaired by Ukraine and the Commission is proof of our commitment to assisting Ukraine in being a reliable partner in the field of transit of energy resources."
The European Union carries out regular consultations with Ukrainian counterparts in accordance with the EU-Ukraine Partnership and Cooperation Agreement from 1998.
The EU and Ukraine are currently negotiating an Association Agreement which will replace the above mentioned Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. The new Agreement aims to enhance Ukraine's political association and economic integration with the EU. This ambitious agreement will cover all areas of political, economic and sectoral cooperation, including the establishment of a deep and comprehensive Free Trade Area.
The Ukrainian gas transit network is currently in need of refurbishment and modernisation. An EU-funded study has identified that some €2.5 billion is necessary between now and 2013 to maintain the current transit capacity.
The Commission will be co-hosting an international investment conference together with the Ukrainian Government on 23 March in Brussels. The conference aims to attract international investment in the system with the overall aim of securing the efficiency, reliability and transparency of the Ukrainian gas transit infrastructure both for Ukrainian domestic supply and international transit.
EU Foreign Ministers will discuss the Eastern Partnership proposal during their February meeting. The EU Council in March is expected to adopt the Eastern Partnership before its launch at a Summit meeting in spring.