Several hurdles remain before Ukraine can take the next step to joining the European Union, according to the EU’s ambassador in Kiev.
The imprisonment of former prime minister Julia Tymoshenko is a major sticking point – seen in the west as politically motivated. EU officials say her fate is only one obstacle to closer ties.
The EU ambassador to Ukraine, José Manuel Teixeira, told euronews: “All issues related to the rule of law, to the judicial system, democracy in Ukraine, the business environment, business viability, and corruption; all those issues will be taken into consideration.”
The EU is Ukraine’s second largest trading partner after Russia and European businesses hope closer ties between the two will increase that trade.
Tomas Fiala, president of the European Business Association in Ukraine said:“Debt of GDP is under 40 per cent, the budget deficit has been lowered by more than half over the last two years and will come down further to around three per cent this year. On the negative side there are some excessive pressures of the tax authorities and the rule of law and corruption remains quite challenging”.
Last week, Ukraine and the EU initialled an agreement on greater integration, a possible move towards a deep and comprehensive trade agreement. Officials in Brussels though say the political climate in Kiev must become more ‘European’ before it can be signed fully.