EU-Ukraine Association Agreement: Its Threat to Ukrainian Sovereignty

May 22, 2013
Anthony Salvia
American Institute in Ukraine, Director

The signature and ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement – if it takes place, and that remains to be seen -- would surely constitute a turning point in Ukraine’s modern history. But that does not make it a good idea.

Its adoption would require the nation’s economy – every sector of it, and every part of every sector – to jump through hoops of compliance at potentially staggering cost. And all this with no input from the Verkhovna Rada or the Ukrainian people.

If the Association Agreement entails such a steep cost in compliance and in surrender of sovereignty, one shudders to think what full membership would bring in its wake. No wonder the English are clamoring for an in-or-out referendum. They have had enough.

Ukraine will be expected to harmonize all of its laws on just about everything you can think of – from funeral services to safety standards on fishing vessels to navigation of the Danube estuary to space exploration to consumer protection -- with pre-existing EU “regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and communications,” which not even the populations of EU member states voted for, but were handed down from on high by the European Commission.

So, for example, Ukraine will be required to comply with Council Directive 2001/113/EC of 20 December 2001 relating to “fruit jams, jellies, marmalades and sweetened chestnut purees intended for human consumption” (who ever heard of jams and jellies for animal consumption?)

Just what is Council Directive 2001/113/EC of 20 December 2001? It is not spelled our in the Association Agreement so the best way to find out is to Google it. Then you will find seven pages of regulations concerning jams and jellies: “For the purposes of this Directive, the following definitions shall apply: Fruit: — fresh, sound fruit, free from deterioration, containing all its essential constituents and sufficiently ripe for use, after cleaning, removal of blemishes, topping and tailing…”

When Charles de Gaulle used to rail against what he called l’Europe des technocrates for the threat they posed to traditional European life, including national sovereignty, human freedom, and the continent’s centuries-old spiritual values, it was as though he had foreseen the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement mystically.

Jams and jellies aside, the Agreement, if implemented as it stands, could prove deleterious to important Ukrainian interests. The only way to find that out is to research all of the EU “regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and communications” the Agreement commits Ukraine to adhere to, but are not specified in the actual 900-page text of the Agreement. Odessa-based engineer and writer Boris Aleksandrovskiy went to the trouble of doing so and found some egregious examples:

  • Ukraine will be required to convert 30,000 kilometers of railroad tracks, and rolling stock of some 140,000 cars and 6,000 locomotives to European gauges and standards. (No mention is made as to where the money is supposed to come from.)
  • Ukraine must open its military-industrial complex to tenders from Europe. Now, Ukraine's arms industry no longer exports much, but sells mainly internally to the national security apparatus. With passage of the Association Agreement, Ukraine can expect that business to dry up.
  • Ukrainian exporters of electricity, gas and oil will be required to sell these products at prices not higher that those prevailing domestically. This will bid up costs to domestic consumers as outsiders flood the market seeking cheaper energy. That might make the IMF happy, but will not do much for Ukrainian households and businesses.
  • Ukraine now sells Europe 3 million tons of grain; after the conclusion of the agreement, the agreed upon amount will be 1 million tons. Now Ukraine sells Europe 300,000 tons of sugar; after the agreement, 30,000 tons.
  • In metallurgy, Ukraine under the WTO is allowed to retain subsidies for some enterprises; under the AA, subsidies have to be cut in half, and eventually eliminated, thereby placing at risk one of Ukraine’s key industries and major exporters.

Much of the Ukrainian media and political elite continue to tout the Association Agreement as a good thing for the nation. One can only assume that few of them have actually read it.