Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Results of Ukraine elections

Delivered in Plenary - January 13th 2005

Mr President

Commissioner Rehn stated recently in a Financial Times article that the EU cannot close its doors to future enlargement, which is extended to all European countries with a European vocation and common democratic values. Then, for unexplained reasons, Ukraine is labelled a 'neighbour of Europe' with no prospects for EU membership, only closer integration with the EU.

The Orange Revolution, which heralded a remarkable change in democratic thinking in Ukraine, occurred without any EU carrots being held out to change its system of government. That contrasts markedly with Turkey and the western Balkans, which are offered full membership clearly, in my view, a morally unsustainable position in the long run.

I always supported Ukraine's EU-membership aspirations. The denial of EU prospects to Ukraine reflects the unfounded fears in the Council, on the part of the French in particular, of serious agricultural competition, and, on the part of the Germans, of serious industrial competition, notwithstanding the fact that the common agricultural policy will be obsolete by the time Ukraine is ready to join in 10 to 15 years' time, and that industrial relocation is much more likely for a Ukraine in the WTO but outside the EU than it is for a Ukraine as a Member State of the EU with all the onerous single market requirements.

I would also recommend the OECD to Ukraine, but full OECD membership requires WTO membership first, one of the new government's pressing goals. Curiously, the Commission continues to deny Ukraine unlike Russia market economy status. Given the expectations now raised with Ukraine's people, unless the EU accepts that Ukraine can have some kind of long-term aspiration of EU membership, it will be difficult for President Yushchenko to implement the much-needed political and economic reforms and win the parliamentary elections of 2006.

One major policy change that the new government of Ukraine could make and which would demonstrate Kiev's independence from Russia is to help solve the Transnistria problem. That breakaway territory of Moldova is a haven for criminal activity, including money laundering and arms smuggling, and poses a serious security problem for the EU after 2007, when our borders will extend to Moldova. This could be a useful way of showing Brussels that Ukraine really is now independent from Moscow and seriously wants to do business in the international arena.