Russia: EU prolongs economic sanctions by six months | European Council – Press Release

On 19 December 2016, the Council prolonged the economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy until 31 July 2017.

These measures were introduced on 31 July 2014 initially for one year in response to Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine. They were reinforced in September 2014. They target the financial, energy and defence sectors, and the area of dual-use goods.

On 19 March 2015, the European Council agreed to link the duration of the sanctions to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements, which was foreseen to take place by 31 December 2015.

Since the Minsk agreements were not fully implemented by 31 December 2015, the Council extended the sanctions until 31 July 2016, and on 1 July 2016, until 31 January 2017. Having assessed the implementation of the Minsk agreements at the European Council meeting of 15 December, the EU heads of state and government paved the way to renew the sanctions for a further six months, until 31 July 2017. The Council formalised this decision on 19 December 2016 by written procedure and as it is the rule for all decisions on prolongation of restrictive measures, unanimously.

The economic sanctions prolonged by this decision notably:

  • limit access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for 5 major Russian majority state-owned financial institutions and their majority-owned subsidiaries established outside of the EU, as well as three major Russian energy and three defence companies
  • impose an export and import ban on trade in arms
  • establish an export ban for dual-use goods for military use or military end users in Russia
  • curtail Russian access to certain sensitive technologies and services  that can be used for oil production and exploration

In addition to these economic sanctions, several EU measures are also in place in response to the crisis in Ukraine including:

  • targeted individual restrictive measures, namely a visa ban and an asset freeze, currently against 152 people and 37 entities until 15 March 2017;
  • restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, limited to the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol, currently in place until 23 June 2017.
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European Union delivers on its commitments in support of Ukraine | European Commission – Daily News

This morning, in the margins of the third meeting of the European Union-Ukraine Association Council, the European Commission and Ukraine signed a number of agreements, further demonstrating the EU’s ongoing commitment to Ukraine and to the ongoing reform efforts that Ukraine is undertaking. The agreement supporting Ukraine’s public administration reform is worth €104 million, and is one component of a larger package totalling €300 million of EU support for accountable and transparent governance in Ukraine. In addition, a series of cross-border cooperation agreements were signed, confirming Ukraine’s participation in EU-funded programmes involving Romania; Poland and Belarus; Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, and the Black Sea region. These programmes will promote continued economic and social development in regions on both sides of common borders and addressing common challenges in a range of priority areas, as well as to ensure efficient and secure borders. For more information on the agreements, visit the website. This afternoon the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Ukraine will sign the latest set of loans, totalling approximately €600 million and underpinned partly by EU grants, in the total €3 billion financial assistance programme for 2014-2016. This is part of the €11 billion EU support package announced by the EU in March 2014, and demonstrates the EU’s commitment to helping Ukraine stabilise its economic and financial situation, increase resilience, and act as a catalyst for prosperity for the citizens of Ukraine. The Association Council was held one month after the successful 18th EU-Ukraine Summit, and a week after the EU released a joint report examining the state of play of Ukraine’s implementation of its Association Agenda since 1 January 2015 (press release available here). For more information on the European Union’s relations with Ukraine, see the factsheet and visit the website of the EU Delegation in Ukraine and the European Commission’s Support Group for Ukraine.

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Trilateral gas talks between the European Commission, Russia and Ukraine on Friday in Brussels | European Commission – Announcements

Tomorrow, Friday, in Brussels, the European Commission is hosting a trilateral meeting with Russia and Ukraine on gas deliveries and gas transit. The talks, which will be chaired by Vice-President in charge of the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, will be attended by Russia’s and Ukraine’s Ministers for Energy, Alexander Novak and Ihor Nasalyk, as well as top representatives of Naftogaz and Gazprom. The talks are scheduled to start at 1pm Brussels time. “I welcome the preparedness and commitment of both countries to meet here in Brussels for the gas trilaterals. Given the importance of energy relations between the European Union, Russia and Ukraine, continued dialogue is of great importance. I look forward to the trilateral talks, aiming to contribute at ensuring predictable and stable gas deliveries throughout the winter season”, said Vice-President Šefčovič ahead of the talks. There will be a press release issued upon conclusion of the meeting.

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Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Hahn on official visits to Ukraine | European Commission – Announcements

In support of the reform agenda in Ukraine,Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Hahn are currently in the country where they will meet key interlocutors including President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman. Vice-President Dombrovskis will also meet Deputy Prime Minister Ivanna Klympush-Tsyntsadze, Minister of Finance Oleksandr Danylyuk and Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, Valeriya Gontareva. On the agenda will be discussions on economic and financial cooperation between the EU and Ukraine, the EU’s macro-financial assistance to Ukraine, fiscal policy and public finance management, as well as the reform of Ukraine’s State Fiscal Service. Commissioner Hahn will meet Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin as well as local authorities and civil society representatives. Discussions will include Ukraine’s progress across a range of reform commitments. In addition, the Commissioner will visit EU funded reform programmes. – Vice-President and Commissioner will also deliver speeches at the Yalta European Strategy Conference (YES). Videos and photos of the visits of both Commissioners will be available on EbS.

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Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič visits Kyiv, discusses energy policy | European Commission – Daily News

Today, Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, on a working visit in Kyiv, Ukraine, has discussed a broad agenda of topics related to energy policy. In meetings with the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Andrii Parubii, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development Hennadii Zubko and Energy Minister Ihor Nasalyk, Vice-President Šefčovič has also reiterated the need for Ukraine to continue on the path of reforms. On this topic, Vice-President Šefčovič said: “Further reforms are central for modernising Ukraine’s economy, to bring advantages to consumers and enterprises alike, and thereby to unlock the potential for higher standards of living”. He also reconfirmed the readiness of the European Commission to pursue gas talks with the successful trilateral format used in the past.

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Commissioner Oettinger in Kyiv to discuss challenges and opportunities that the Digital Single Market represents for Ukraine | European Commission – Announcements

Today and tomorrow, Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, is in Ukraine. During this visit, Commissioner Oettinger is expected to meet Volodymyr Groysman, Prime Minister of Ukraine, Stepan Kubiv, Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, and Oleksandr Danchenko, Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament’s ICT Committee, to discuss cooperation in the field of digital economy and society. The Commissioner will also speak at a high-level policy event which will explore the challenges and opportunities that the European Union’s Digital Single Market represents for Ukraine. The Commissioner has been inspired by the success of the Energy Community which extends the EU’s internal energy market rules to countries in South-East Europe and beyond, and hopes to explore a similar common vision of a Digital Community between the EU and Ukraine. Commissioner Oettinger intends to organise a Ministerial-level meeting with the six Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) in early autumn in Brussels in order to continue the discussion on the creation of the Digital Community. Further information will be published on the Commissioner’s website tomorrow.

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Ukraine: four crises, one country | EUobserver Neighbourhood Policy blog

For most of the last two decades virtually every Ukrainian election or opinion poll has displayed two Ukraines – one Western-leaning and another looking to Moscow; one voting Timoshenko or Yushchenko and another pro Yanukovich; one against Putin and another in favour of him. Unsurprisingly, many feared that the ousting of Yanukovich, the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the infiltration of eastern Ukraine by Russian military intelligence would lead Ukraine to split in two or collapse altogether like a house of cards.

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Ukraine: Poroshenko poised to sign trade pact with EU | euronews

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said he would personally sign an association agreement with the European Union on June 27. He told reporters that will decisively shift Ukraine away from Russia’s influence and rule out joining a Moscow-led customs union. “That’s what we have been waiting so long for, what millions of Ukrainians wanted to achieve and what they’ve been fighting for over the last six months. And I am sure it will take place next week,” said Poroshenko. Earlier, the parliament in Kyiv confirmed Ukraine’s next foreign minister will be the current Ambassador to Germany Pavlo Klimkin.

More on this story: Ukraine: Poroshenko poised to sign trade pact with EU

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EVENT HIGHLIGHTS: “The relationship between Europe and its Eastern neighbourhood at a turning point?” (8 April)

On Tuesday 8th of April, at the premises of Science14 Atrium in Brussels, PubAffairs Bruxelles hosted a debate concerning the relationship between Europe and its Eastern neighbourhood. The event was moderated by Mr Rikard Jozwiak, Brussels Correspondent for Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, while the discussants were Mr Tomasz Orlowski, Head of Section of EU Foreign Policy and External Action, Permanent Representation of Poland to the EU, Mr Arnoldas Pranckevičius, Adviser on External relations, President Schulz’s Cabinet, Mr Konstantinos Vardakis, Deputy Head of Division,  Eastern  Partnership, regional cooperation & OSCE, European External Action Service.

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Photo Album: Debate – The relationship between Europe and its Eastern neighbourhood at a turning point? (8 April)

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