EU-Ukraine: Towards a New Quality of Partnership

December 16, 2021

Today, one of Brussels’ key priorities in the Ukrainian direction is the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, including its update. It is clear, however, that this “pre-war” document should undergo a major modernisation and include a joint movement towards the “four freedoms” of the European single market, in addition to trade liberalisation. It is also essential to make the Agreement’s Title II (Foreign and Security Policy) more specific by developing relevant annexes and action plans. In other words, the framework’s declarative novelties must be filled with specific content.

Modern realities and challenges bring to the fore issues of strategic prospects, the need for a new quality of the EU-Ukraine solidarity and the partnership in the economic, political and security spheres.

But the country still has no clear European prospects providing full-fledged membership in the EU

Ukraine literally fights for its European choice, countering Russian aggression on the European continent and covering the EU’s eastern flank, which has become even more dangerous because of Belarus. Sustaining huge human and economic losses, Ukraine is forced to spend significant resources on curbing the Kremlin’s expansion. But the country still has no clear European prospects providing full-fledged membership in the EU.

Officially, Brussels views Ukraine as an external partner and is reluctant to discuss its membership prospects. Reasons for that include both Ukraine’s internal problems and the EU’s unwillingness to deepen the conflict with Russia. One way or another, the issue of long-lasting “strategic uncertainty” is latently present on the agenda of EU-Ukraine relations and is becoming increasingly relevant. Developing a roadmap for Ukraine’s EU membership should be a logical step that would incentivise internal reforms and contribute to pro-European selfidentification of Ukrainians.

In the meantime, the adoption of a new EU’s Russia policy with its subsequent transformation into a clear programme of action requires a revision of the European Neighbourhood Policy to introduce a new quality of relations with partner countries opposing Russian influence, namely the Association Trio — Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.

In turn, given the increase debate concerning the EU’s strategic resilience and the creation of joint European armed forces in the future, Ukraine is interested in expanding its representation in EU security programmes (including PESCO) and in equal participation in the dialogue on future EU architecture.

It is no exaggeration to say that European integration and solidarity with the EU are essential components of the country’s foreign policy, public narrative and worldview of the leading political parties and citizens of Ukraine alike. It should be added that the prospect of joining the EU is enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine, and is a key priority in the new foreign policy strategy adopted in August 2021.

It is no exaggeration to say that European integration and solidarity with the EU are essential components of the country’s foreign policy (...)

Ukraine’s successful European integration has several significant elements for promoting the European project in Eastern Europe. First, it is an effective resistance to Russia’s continental expansion. Second, it is a powerful stimulus and example for other Eastern Partnership countries. Third, it is the failure of the Eurasian reintegration under the Russian scenario. And finally, a successful European Ukraine “dooms” the police state model built in present-day Russia and its satellite Belarus.

Meanwhile, it should be borne in mind that Russia-Ukraine conflict is an integral part of the Kremlin's aggressive policy on the European continent. To this end, it is vital for Ukraine to: a) maintain political and economic support from the West; b) strengthen the sanctions front against Russia; c) expand the range of countries in solidarity with Ukraine.

Partnership and solidarity are only worth something when they have common strategic goals, strong economic basis and solid protection. These are components of a new quality of solidarity that we expect from EU-Ukraine relations.


Mykhailo Pashkov

Co-Director, Foreign Relations and International Security Programmes

Born in 1958 in Roslavl, Smolensk oblast, Russia


Smolensk Institute of Pedagogy, Faculty of the Russian Language and Literature (1979)

Moscow Institute of Youth, Faculty of Journalism (1986)

Kyiv Institute of Political Science and Public Administration (1991)

Ph. D. in Philosophy; the author of more than 50 publications

1979 – 1989 — worked at different positions in district, regional and republican newspapers in Russia and Moldova

1991 – 1994 — worked in scientific institutions of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

1994 – 1998 — Diplomatic Service at the Embassy of Ukraine in the Russian Federation

Since December 1999 — Razumkov Centre's Leading Expert

Diplomatic Rank: First Secretary. Most recent position in state structures — Chief Consultant, Analytical Service of Ukraine's NSDC Staff

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