Andrew Wilson, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and Reader in Ukrainian Studies at University College, London, has published a policy paper for the Council which examines the political landscape of Ukraine following the recent elections and makes recommendations on how the EU should take forward development of its relationship with Ukraine.

He writes that the relationship is now at an impasse, but that the real danger now is that the ruling Yanukovych regime will seek to entrench its power still further, with the extended 'family' seeking to enrich themselves on an unprecedented scale. The EU needs to think creatively and not wait for Ukraine's democracy and European commitment to be demonstrated in yet another election. Wilson believes that the rise of independent non-governmental organisations ready to speak out about democratic abuses in Ukraine is a real positive step, but he also highlights the continuing grip of wealthy businessmen on Ukraine's politics and independent media.

Amongst the measures he advocates are: liberalisation of the visa regime; expansion of educational programmes and exchanges; and investment help for small and medium-sized businesses. He also believes that the process of signing the Association and Free Trade agreements should begin, but perhaps partially and certainly with conditions. Wilson believes that the EU should use its own legal processes to get much tougher with the Yanukovych 'family' - banning visas for leading regime members (linked to continuing corruption of legal processes) and, critically, auditing those companies in Europe which are being used to hide and launder money which is being siphoned out of the country by the ruling clan.

He concludes: "Ukraine’s leaders behave like they have immunity and impunity, as if Ukraine were a vital raw material supplier or possessed of other geopolitical importance. In reality, they only have power in isolation. The EU should not fear continuing to apply tough standards to Ukraine. But the EU needs leverage and should also work harder to show it is on the side of Ukraine’s beleaguered democratic, liberal and economically constructive forces. Once Ukraine develops proper relations with Europe appropriate to its size, location and economic potential, the EU’s leverage will be much higher. It’s time to show Ukraine some tough love."

To read the policy paper in full, click here.


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